Tips for a Successful Disability Application in Greenville
It’s hard enough when you’re dealing with health problems and you can’t work. Now you face a Social Security Disability process with thousands of rules, its own separate legal system and most people getting denied the first time they apply.
At the law office of Don Pilzer, we know you have enough stress already, so we do everything we can to ease your way through this complicated system.
One way to make applying for disability benefits as smooth and comfortable as possible is to sidestep some common mistakes.
To give your application the best chance for success, we’ve gathered a list of five mistakes you should avoid.
Avoid These 5 Mistakes in Filing For Social Security Disability:
- Failing to undergo consistent medical care. In determining disability, your medical file is more important than any other evidence. You need reports of your doctor’s observations. You need test results, such as laboratory findings, x-rays or MRIs.
This helps Social Security confirm your health problem, so the decision to award you benefits is more meaningful, and the program is stronger. People can’t just go to a hearing, describe their symptoms, complain about how they feel and expect to win benefits.
For you to persuade a judge, you also must receive care consistently. Follow his or her orders. Don’t miss appointments or fail to take medications, or the judge might not believe you need help.
If you’re struggling with insurance, or Medicaid eligibility, you should explore the possibility of going to a free medical clinic.
- Abusing illegal substances and alcohol. Judges don’t like to award benefits to people who abuse illegal substances and alcohol. They might worry a disability applicant will spend the money on illegal drugs.
Congress even amended the law to say your claim will be denied if substance abuse is contributing to your disability.
If you used to have a substance abuse problem, but you quit, be as specific as you can about what you did and when you quit. Joining a rehabilitation program could help in confirming dates.
- Working while claiming to have a disability. Because the application process can take more than two years, you might think you need to try to work in order to survive.
That’s understandable, but working weakens your chances of winning disability benefits. And if you earn too much, your claim will certainly be denied.
Our view is that anything over $300 per month can be a problem. Anything over $500 per month will surely sink your case.
And any work you do “under the table” counts. Be careful with off-the-books work, because it could create suspicion with the judge about how much you’re really able to work and earn.
Judges don’t like vague answers about doing a little work “here and there.” Keep records of all work.
- Understating the demands of your past jobs. Don’t accidently downplay how hard your old jobs were.
Sometimes people don’t give enough details on their past responsibilities, leading Social Security to decide they could return to their previous work.
For example, don’t just list “store manager” without explaining that the job required you to perform all the tasks everyone else did, too.
Try to remember everything, including how much lifting, standing, bending and climbing you did.
- Failing to work with a local disability lawyer. An experienced disability lawyer knows how to identify exactly which of your health limitations will qualify you for benefits. And a lawyer knows how to present your case to give you the best chance of winning benefits.
It’s important to work with a local lawyer because he or she can develop a relationship with you and put time and thought into your case, so you’re prepared for your hearing.
Some law firms assign you a lawyer only days before your hearing. If the firm can’t tell you who your lawyer will be for an upcoming hearing, that’s a red flag.
Judges know when your lawyer prepared your case at the last minute. And they don’t like it.
A local lawyer is more likely to have a positive relationship with the judge in the first place.