What Should You Say When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits?

When you are beginning your application for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits due to an impairment that will last more than one year and prohibits you from being gainfully employed, it’s important to discuss, as much as possible, the details of your specific disability.

The Social Security disability approval process can be a challenge, so it’s imperative to know what to say when filing your papers, but it’s also important to know what not to say. A Social Security disability approval or denial may depend on how well you complete the paperwork, as it’s one of the main sources of information on which a decision is based. Providing as much information as you can on your medical history, condition and work paints an accurate picture of your situation and helps the administrative law judge make the best decision they can in determining if you may qualify for Social Security disability.

Explain your symptoms and limitations to the Social Security claim agents

It can sometimes be embarrassing or scary to discuss your medical issues with a stranger, even through paper. That said, it’s important to be as forthcoming as possible on how your condition affects your daily life. Don’t underestimate the the effects your symptoms and limitations have and don’t downplay them. You won’t get approval for Social Security disability if you’re not truthful. Provide as much information as you can on your condition, medication you take and its side effects, how you’re affected by your disability and how it makes sustaining work a challenge.

Detail your previous work and employment history

Part of the reason you’re filing for Social Security disability is because your condition stops you from being able to work full-time and make enough money to support yourself. Therefore, it’s important to explain the details of previous jobs you’ve had to support why you can no longer do them. Talk about:

  • Your usual required work duties for each previous job you held
  • Current job skill/experience level
  • Any physical demands required for each job, such as if you had to lift more than 50 pounds every day

Related: Can I Lose My Disability Benefits for Doing Volunteer Work?

A Social Security attorney can triple your odds for SSD benefit approval the first time you apply. Those who qualify for legal assistance through this website typically get $12,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits. People who apply for SSD on their own typically don’t get benefits. However, those that do usually wait 18-24 months for their first disability payment.

All disability lawyers work on contingency. That means if the SSA won’t award you benefits, then you owe $0 for legal assistance. But if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

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Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.