After you experience a debilitating injury or diagnosis, you and your family members deserve fiscal compensation that helps you maintain your quality of life, pay your medical bills, and balance out the cost of lost income. However, the process of applying for disability can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating.
Unfortunately, several common mistakes keep thousands of people every year from obtaining the benefits they’re legally entitled to. Below, we’ll describe a few of these mistakes so you can avoid them and ensure you get the right amount of compensation. You should get a lawyer before you start to help with everything below.
1. Filing for Disability Benefits While Still Employed
One of the most frustrating parts of filing for social security disability is that you can no longer be employed when you file. The reasoning behind this idea is that if you can work, you obviously don’t qualify to receive disability payments.
However, even if you’re in extreme pain, you probably feel like you have to work to support yourself and your family. You might simply switch jobs and apply for disability while doing your best to support your family until the check arrives. In general, though, you should wait a few months after quitting any job to file for disability.
If you make less than a certain amount of money, though, you don’t have to quit. In 2016, the maximum amount you can make per month and still receive benefits is $1,130 gross, before taxes. Keep an eye on that figure-it changes every year to account for minimum wage changes and inflation. The rules also vary slightly if you’re self-employed. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about the specifics of your situation.
Going without income while you file for disability and then waiting several months to hear back about your claim is painful, but you do have options to support yourself. You can look for a part-time job that pays well under $1,130 gross. You can also look for other government assistance programs at either a federal or local level. For example, SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps families with lower incomes buy food.
2. Failing to Stay On Top of Your Claim’s Status
Disability claims can take a minimum of six months or more to process. Although the SSA does its best to work through thousands of applications in a timely matter, paperwork gets misplaced, and technology breakdowns keep workers from getting to your claim on time. Your medical providers might also be slow to answer requests from the SSA about your specific case.
If you request your claim’s status, though, you can find out whether or not your medical provider has responded to the SSA’s requests for paperwork or more information. When this happens, you can simply call your doctor’s office and ask them to reply to the SSA’s requests as quickly as possible.
If your claim gets denied, that isn’t the end of the road. In fact, around 66% of all claims are denied the first time around, and many of them get accepted later. If you check your status and you’ve been denied, work with a lawyer to figure out why your claim was denied and to gather more evidence that demonstrates you unequivocally deserve those benefits.
3. Failing to See a Doctor or to Follow the Doctor’s Recommendations
It’s absolutely imperative that you see a doctor as soon as your injury or illness occurs. If you fail to do so, the SSA can assume you were well enough to keep working for a time, and thus that you’re well enough to keep working when you eventually apply for disability.
Even if you worry you can’t afford the cost, visit your doctor as soon as possible. The disability benefits you receive down the road can help you pay the medical bills, and without the right documentation, it’s almost certain your claim will be denied. There are also free clinics you can look into.
Once you visit the doctor, you also need to follow his or her instructions as best you can. If you don’t attend physical therapy as prescribed or if you fail to take the right medications, the SSA can decide you didn’t do your part to ensure a full recovery. Even if this judgment is unfair, you’ll still have to show that you followed your doctor’s recommendations and did everything in your power to recover to get benefits.
Talk to Your Lawyer to Avoid Other Common Errors
When you’re aware of these issues, you can do whatever is necessary to avoid them. Remember, though, that your lawyer can ensure you escape these pitfalls and many others.
When you visit a law firm, your lawyer will discuss your specific situation and help you make the strongest possible case for your disability benefits. Talk to Horn & Kelley P.C., Attorneys At Law to build your best case. Studies show that the sooner you get an attorney involved, the sooner and more likely your claim will be approved.