When someone becomes disabled, starting the process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits can be overwhelming. You should expect to fill out numerous forms and questionnaires. You can start the process in one of two basic ways. You can look up the site for the Social Security Administration and begin your application online. For some, this may be preferable because it gives you time to think and carefully consider your answers to the questions that are being put forth.
On the other hand, you may decide that you would prefer to go to the local Social Security office and have someone assist you with your application. This may result in some inconvenience and you may end up waiting for quite some time before you are helped. You may also feel rushed, but if you have a good assistant working with you, then you may ultimately be glad that you took the extra time. At some offices, you can call ahead in order to schedule an appointment. This may be preferable to just walking in and catching an assistant who isn’t having a good day.
Once you have filed the application, one of the problems is that no one seems to be directly responsible for your claim. You can contact the Social Security Administration and you will likely talk to a number of different people. While many of these individuals will do the best that they can in order to be helpful, they are basically looking up information on a computer and they are usually not personally familiar with your case. One thing to keep in mind, the individuals who are helping in the application process are not the decision-makers when it comes to your case. Frustrated individuals often want to blame the assistant who is helping them . The decision-makers at the initial stage of review are insulated from contact and the people who are on the front lines are simply trying to give you status information which they may be finding on their computer.
If your case is denied initially, it is important that you understand that you have 60 days in order to file an appeal. At this stage, you can obtain a face-to-face hearing with an Administrative Law Judge who will give your case a fresh look. You may decide to go it alone, or you can obtain the services of an experienced attorney. If you win, you may be drawing disability benefits for the rest of your life. It seems that going it alone perhaps means that you can save yourself a little money if you are successful, but if you lose, you may be forfeiting years of benefits which you would have obtained if you had a better understanding as to how to present your case.
When you enter the Social Security office, you should be prepared to provide them with a list of all of your doctors and hospitals, including their addresses and the reason that they are treating you. The disability examiner will ultimately want to request all of these records. If you have a good relationship with your treating doctors, you should tell them to expect requests for information and perhaps a disability questionnaire from the Social Security Administration. Your doctor should understand that the Social Security Administration will be interested in the work restrictions which he provides. You can also offer lay evidence which might consist of letters from friends, or a letter from your former employer.
I know that the intitial paperwork can be overwhelming, but do not put off filing your claim because you may have to wait a considerable amount of time before a decision is made.
Submitted by: Jeff Swaney
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