Key Factors in a Successful Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplement Security Income Claim
If you are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplement Security Income (SSI), waiting for the agency’s decision can be stressful. Being limited in your ability to earn a living and pay your bills can be tough, but it is not the job of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to guess at your qualifications for benefits.
To ensure you have a successful claim, you must provide enough evidence to prove you meet the agency’s criteria. If you do not have qualified representation, this can be an uphill battle.
At Baker & Baker, our North Florida Social Security Disability attorneys will advocate for your interests and make sure that your evidence is well-documented. If you are getting ready to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits or need assistance with an appeal, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
The Differences Between SSDI and SSI Benefits
If you are struggling financially due to a medical condition, you may be confused about whether you should apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but the criteria to qualify for each program are different.
Where the programs are similar is that they use the same criteria to determine medical eligibility for disability. The main difference between the two is that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated sufficient work credits for the program and SSI is available to low-income people who either do not have enough work credits for SSDI or who have never worked.
Key Factors in Winning a Social Security Case
What many people do not realize is that roughly 60 to 65 percent of first-time applications for disability are denied by the SSA. If you do not want to participate in the lengthy appeals process, it would be better to get approved on the first try, or at least through an early appeal.
The SSA does not make it easy. But here are a few key factors that can increase your chances of success with a disability claim.
Recent Work History
Generally, it is admirable to work and earn a living when you are able. But heading out to work may not do you any favors if you are not able to actually perform and keep up with the working requirements because of your disabling medical conditions. Sometimes a claimant may want to give it one last effort to return to work while also trying to qualify for disability benefits. SSA may hold the last attempt to work against you unless this last attempt is only for a very, very short time frame and the work ends because you can’t maintain the work because of your disabling medical conditions. SSA will also evaluate if you earned too much money during this last work attempt.
Good Medical Records
Cases that win approval from the SSA for disability payments are the ones that have thorough medical documentation. If you only have one piece of paper from a physician that is six months old, it is going to be tough to win a disability case.
Instead, there should be sufficient medical history showing a diagnosis that is backed up by testing. The medical records should also document what treatment you are undergoing and how often you are being seen by a provider.
Medical Evidence of Disability
Beyond a diagnosis of a medical condition, your SSDI or SSI claim should include substantial documentation of your limitations. The basis of disability payments is to help you financially because you are unable to work. If you have a covered condition but can still work, your claim will be denied.
You can include some statements from employers and relatives about your limitations. But those only have so much value. Examples of medical evidence of disability would be the results of a memory test, an exercise stress test for heart problems, or a straight-leg test for spinal conditions.
If you have an illness or a disability that prevents you from working and you want to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, hiring an attorney to guide your initial application or denial appeal can drastically improve the chances of a successful conclusion.
A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that people who hired an attorney to help with their disability claims were three times more likely to be successful than those who didn’t.
How a Qualified Social Security Benefits Attorney Can Help
With most disability applications getting a notice of denial, this can be a frustrating process. Applying for and appeal a claim for disability benefits can be complicated, and the chances of success increase when you have the help of an experienced Social Security disability attorney.
If you hire an attorney to help with your claim, you will not have to pay any fees upfront. You are already dealing with enough financial hardship and will only be charged a fee when the SSA approves your claim. Some of the ways your attorney will help with your case include:
- Application Preparation – As we just outlined, your application’s initial preparation can make the difference between approval and denial. An attorney can help you gather the proper documentation needed to substantiate your identity, medical condition, and disability so that it meets the SSA’s requirements.
- Frequent Communication – Your attorney will carefully track your claim’s progress and respond appropriately to any requests for additional information from the SSA. You will also get any questions answered about your case to ensure you have ongoing peace of mind throughout the process.
- Pursuing an Appeal – If the SSA does not approve your application, your attorney can help facilitate the appeals process. There are four levels of appeals, each with its own requirements and deadlines. Your attorney will aggressively fight for your interests and ensure that compelling evidence is presented to strengthen your case.
Finalizing Your Claim
If, and when, your claim is approved, your attorney will review the calculations provided by the SSA to ensure there were no errors and you will receive the full benefits you deserve.
Gathering all the documentation you need for a successful claim can be a challenging task on its own. Understanding how to present your documentation and argue your case can be equally difficult. Baker & Baker has the experience and knowledge required to help you build the strongest case possible for SSDI or SSI benefits. Call our office today at (850) 433-0888 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.