By Dennis L. Plank, Attorney
In Pennsylvania, filing a Social Security Disability claim is a complex process with strict deadlines. Even after submission, applicants may receive requests in the mail to submit additional information or documentation within a very short time frame.
When the SSA denies a claim, the applicant has just sixty days to file an appeal. That’s why it’s so important to respond quickly to any correspondence from the Social Security Administration. Failure to meet any deadlines associated with the initial submission or additional requests could also result in a denial.
Sixty days is a relatively short window of time, especially if additional information is needed to complete a claim. Here are some things you may have to do in sixty days to successfully contest a denied Social Security Disability Claim.
Completing a claim for disability benefits requires volumes of paperwork and copious documentation. Perhaps that’s why missing or incorrect paperwork is one of the most common reasons for denying a claim. For example, in the SSD claim form, applicants need to provide personal information about themselves and their family members as well as work details, including earnings, dates of past employment, military service, and any previous workers’ compensation. If any of these details are missing, incorrect, or even inconsistent, the claim may be denied.
Is any medical information missing? Applicants must include detailed information such as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics involved; the dates of all visits; laboratory and test results; all diagnosed conditions; and all medications and other treatments, their purposes, and dosages along with any side effects.
It’s critical to provide all personally identifying documents and paperwork. These may include a birth certificate or proof of citizenship; U.S. military discharge papers if the applicant served before 1968; W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns; and any relevant award letters, pay stubs, or settlement agreements.
Make sure that details provided on one form do not conflict with those supplied in another. Missing information can delay the processing of a claim, but even the slightest discrepancy, such as a misspelled name or incorrect phone number, can result in a denial.
It’s important to allow plenty of time to compile documentation, complete the paperwork, and review it for accuracy. Going and Plank can help denied applicants by reviewing paperwork, gathering missing information or documents, and staying within the deadline. Importantly, The Law Offices of Going and Plank withholds attorneys’ fees until the client receives payment of benefits. That means our representation is available at no cost unless we recover funds for our clients.
Don’t File for Unemployment
Unemployment benefits are designed to provide income while a person looks for employment. Therefore, people receiving these benefits must be ready and able to work. Conversely, Social Security Disability benefits are for people who are unable to have a job. For this reason, the Social Security Administration may deny a disability claim to a person already receiving unemployment benefits.
There are exceptions where it is possible to collect both SSD and unemployment, including cases where someone can only work in a limited capacity. However, it’s essential to verify qualifications to receive both before applying. An experienced Lancaster County attorney can ensure potential conflicts do not result in a denied Social Security Disability claim.
Continue to Follow Doctor’s Orders
A physician’s word often carries great weight when deciding a claim. While medical records tell part of the story, a letter from a doctor can go a long way toward explaining the severity of an injury and its effect on the applicant’s day-to-day functioning and capacity for employment. It can also detail the expected duration of the disability and any current or future treatments.
Following all a doctor’s orders is an integral part of the claims process, even if the claim is initially denied. In addition, failing to take medication or follow a prescribed physical regimen and diet can result in another denial if it appears the applicant is ignoring medical advice or otherwise prolonging an injury.
Likewise, working against a doctor’s orders is also a mistake. If an employee with a disabling injury or medical condition takes any paid job to make ends meet, even if it’s only part-time, the Social Security Administration may assume they can earn a living and deny their claim.
Don’t Appeal a Denied Claim Without the Help of a Lancaster County Lawyer
Once a claim is denied, it is important to contact an experienced disability lawyer who can review the case, gather any missing evidence or documentation, fix common mistakes, and negotiate deadline extensions if necessary. They can also assist in preparation for the hearing of the appeal.
Contact the Law Offices of Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster today for a free consultation and help in appealing a denied claim. We don’t charge attorney fees unless we successfully recover Social Security Disability benefits.
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