Disability benefits can be a lifesaver for many disabled Americans who are unable to work. Unfortunately, the process of applying for benefits and winning approval can be frustrating and confusing—and many people will make critical errors throughout the process that increase the odds of a denial.
6 Common Social Security Disability Mistakes
Millions of people apply for Social Security disability benefits each year, so it is in your best interest to make your first application complete and to meet all the necessary deadlines. There are many actions you can avoid before, during, and after the application process in order to increase your chances of success, including:
- Failing to list all of your conditions. Your Social Security disability application should not just contain information on your primary medical condition, but list any medical conditions that contribute to your inability to work. For instance, depression is a common side effect of other long-term injuries, and should be included on your application if your doctor is treating you for a mental illness.
- Canceling doctors’ appointments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) relies on medical evidence from your doctors to prove the disabling nature of your condition. If you aren't receiving treatment for your condition, the SSA may assume that your condition would improve under a doctor’s care and deny your claim.
- Working while waiting for disability approval. If you earn more than the level of substantial gainful activity, you will not be eligible to receive any Social Security disability benefits. Even if you only do part-time work, the SSA may assume that your condition is not that bad, or that you could do another type of work with your disability.
- Collecting unemployment while waiting for a decision. Social Security disability payments rely on a statement that you are unable to work, while collecting unemployment is a statement that you are able to work, but you cannot find the right job. These are two conflicting statements, and the SSA may deny your claim as a result.
- Neglecting to follow up on the status of your claim. You should check the status of your Social Security disability claim at regular intervals to see how your case is progressing. This will help you respond as quickly as possible if additional records are needed, if your paperwork has been mislaid, or if the SSA failed to notify you of approval or denial.
- Failing to prepare for your disability hearing. Most Social Security disability applications will be denied the first time around. Claimants can appeal this process in a disability hearing in front of a judge, but they will need to bring all additional information, including medical records, treatment notes, journals, and witness statements to present in court.
Another mistake people will make during the benefits process is failing to consult with a disability lawyer. Legal advice can be invaluable in getting your benefits approved. Call the number on this page or fill out our convenient online contact form to make an appointment in our Pittsburgh office.