It is not uncommon for a disability claim to be denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). According to statistics published on the SSA’s official website, only 28% of disability applicants were awarded benefits at the initial claim level (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2011/sect04.html).
Fortunately, there are certain things you can do that will help your claim during the first stages of the application’s review process. If you are planning on claiming a disability to the SSA, keep in mind these 5 things you should do to increase your chances of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits.
The Disability Determination Services (aka DDS, the agency that evaluates disability claims for the SSA) looks into your medical history and will contact your health care providers to decide whether or not you have a disability, as defined by the SSA. The more medical records you have on file, the better chances your claim has of being approved.
Also, having earlier medical records may show the DDS that your disability began further back and you may be eligible for back pay, or in layman’s terms, more money!
For a list of the DDS offices and their contact information, click here (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/procontacts.htm).
Asking your doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form could increase your chances of getting approved for disability. RFC forms are also often referred to as “Ability to Do Work Related Activity” forms. This form is an evaluation of your physical and mental capacity for work that was completed by your doctor. During your claim review, the DDS will contact your medical providers for similar information. Already having RFC form(s) on file may help prove that you are not capable of work activity.
Do not just focus on one single, disabling medical condition when going through the Social Security Disability application. All of your current medical conditions should be included or at least mentioned during your application process. The DDS takes into consideration every condition that limits your ability to work and by being thorough in your application, you are giving them more reasons why you are in need of disability benefits. So, put down as much information, as far back, as possible
When reviewing your past work history, the DDS will use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (aka, DOT: http://www.oalj.dol.gov/libdot.htm) for a job description of the work you performed. This description usually contains a generalized description of the type of activity that your profession entails.
Your actual job activity may not exactly match the description in the DOT. By including the specific activities you performed at work, you give the DDS a better picture about the work you were capable of doing in the past and how it applies to your current working capability. This gives your application reviewer less of a chance to assume that you are capable of doing certain types of work, maximizing your chance of disability approval.
Doctors and health care providers are busy people. Filling out medical paperwork for the SSA to review your application may not be a priority on their list, thus resulting in inefficient reports that may hinder your application. If you retrieve this information yourself and turn it in to the SSA, you ensure that the DDS will be receiving the most detailed and accurate information on your medical condition.
The DDS will still reach out to these providers themselves, but at least you will be rest assured that information that you trust and have reviewed will be taken into consideration.
Click here (http://arthritis.about.com/od/disabilityandarthritis/ss/applydisability_4.htm) for About.com‘s checklist of what you need for your interview.
Even though denied disability claims have averaged nearly 53% (from data collected between 2001 to 2010), you can still take extra steps that will keep you out of that bracket and will increase your chances of being approved for Social Security Disability.