I’m not sure what you know about getting approved for disability benefits, so I’m going to explain things as if this is the first time you are seeing this information.
Getting Approved for Disability Benefits On the First Try
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that it isn’t, impossible but it does require time and patience. Right now, over 77% of people who apply for disability benefits get denied on the first try. This means less than 1 in 4 applicants get disability benefits the first time they apply. However, I’m going to do what I can to get you into that 23% group. Is this possible? Yes, it is!!! Can I guarantee your approval? No.
There are many different variables that can turn a case one way or the other. That is why you need to take things slowly and fill out your application forms very carefully. That’s the first step toward getting approved for disability benefits. Below, I’ll explain two ways you can apply for SSD benefits. Then, you’ll learn how to boost your odds of winning disability benefits the first time you apply.
How Should You Apply for Disability Benefits?
You have a couple different ways to apply for disability benefits. First, you can file your claim for free with the SSA. This option works if you are willing to put in the time and effort. For most people, just filling out the claim paperwork can take up to six months. You’ll need read and understand everything you need to do before you apply. That also means getting all your medical records and other evidence from your doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to do this… but you need to know what tasks lay ahead.
Option 1: Apply On Your Own and Hope for the Best
Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and tell them you plan to apply. Then, they’ll send you an information packet with many different forms to fill out. Once you read through everything and hopefully understand what they’re asking, start filling out your paperwork. If you don’t understand what the form asks of you, you can always contact your local SSA office for help. You know how well government offices work, so this should not be a problem. (But you may want to schedule an appointment in person, since getting in touch by phone isn’t always easy.) You finish up your paperwork, submit it to the SSA and hope for the best.
Option 2: Get A Disability Advocate to Help You Apply (Recommended)
We really recommend that you talk to someone who knows what they are doing before you apply. You can talk to a disability advocate or Social Security lawyer near you free of charge. These people work with the SSA every day and know exactly how the system works. In fact, here’s one way to save yourself a lot of time and anguish: sign up for a free benefits evaluation online before you apply. It’s the fastest way to see if you may qualify for disability benefits and get professional help filing your claim.
And you should know that having a disability isn’t enough for the government to pay you benefits. You have to meet several other eligibility requirements for the SSA to approve your claim. If there’s any doubt in their minds, they’ll have you come in for a medical exam. Assuming that their doctor agrees with your doctor about your disability, it still isn’t a done deal. Getting approved for disability benefits also means you can’t make a single mistake filling out the claim forms. Are you willing to risk waiting another six months to get the money you need now just because you accidentally left one field blank? The SSA calls this a “technical denial,” but many eligible applicants denied the first time only get benefits they qualify for after they appeal.
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved for Disability Benefits
You’re probably wondering how much it costs to speak with an advocate. Well, you can consult an attorney by phone for free. You can ask as many confidential questions as you like. Your information stays private, and you get advice about your specific situation. You can read about disability benefits and decide that you should qualify. But really, how confident are you? Are you willing to go through all the time and hassle just to get denied? The SSA has its definition of “disabled,” and it isn’t what you think. They don’t care how much pain you’re in, or how much money you need to survive. Getting approved for disability benefits comes down to three things:
- Are you working now, even part-time? If not, how long ago did you stop working? You must be out of work at least five months before getting approved for disability benefits.
- Will your health problems get better in less than 12 months? Do your medical records prove you cannot work at least a year, or that you won’t get better? (If you have a terminal illness, that usually means getting approved for disability faster than most people who apply.)
- Have you worked full-time for 5 in the last 10 years while paying FICA taxes? Getting approved for disability also depends on your work history. Specifically, the SSA only approves claimants that paid Social Security payroll taxes. Being disabled isn’t enough for the government to pay you benefits. If you haven’t worked enough years or recently enough, don’t give up! You might still qualify for monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It’s complicated, though, which is why we really recommend talking to a lawyer before you apply.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
If you aren’t already completely sure you qualify, then this is where an advocate comes in. A lawyer will talk with you to find out what your situation is and if you should even apply. Look at it this way: It’s easier to pass a test when you’ve already seen the questions. Why wouldn’t you want to know what to expect and how to qualify before you apply for disability? A lawyer in our network will let you know if you have a good chance of approval free of charge. You do not have to do business with an advocate just for talking to you about your claim.
You have nothing to lose talking to an advocate. But having a lawyer file your paperwork doubles your approval odds the first time you apply for benefits. These lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay them anything unless they help you win. If you do win benefits, federal law limits how much they can charge you in a one-time fee. You’ll never pay money out of your own pocket for a consultation or having a lawyer help you apply for disability benefits.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.