By Dennis L. Plank, Attorney
Dealing with an injury that makes it impossible to go back to work is tough, but being denied for social security disability can make it even harder. Being unable to earn income or pay off medical bills is already challenging but receiving a denied claim for government benefits can make the situation feel hopeless.
However, there may still be a way to get benefits. Pennsylvania denies 70% of initial social security disability claims, often due to clerical errors during the claim process or incorrectly submitted information. If rejected claimants act fast, they can appeal the initial decision and get their deserved benefits. Lancaster residents often find that having an experienced SSD attorney on their side helps ensure the appeal goes smoothly. However, there is a quick turnaround for appeals–they must be submitted within 60 days of the claim being denied.
Here are some tips to help applicants improve their chances to successfully appeal a denied claim.
Don’t Miss Deadlines
Many parts of the disability claim process are time-sensitive. There are deadlines for everything from sending documents to requesting hearings and appealing decisions. Unfortunately, those who need the benefits most often have the most trouble applying for them. It can be pretty challenging to keep track of all the different deadlines and cut-offs, especially for those dealing with chronic pain, depression, anxiety, brain injuries, or other mental and physical health problems. An applicant can risk losing benefits if they miss these deadlines, so having an attorney who can help meet requirements can be a huge help.
Look for Missing Information
While every disability claim is unique, leaving information out of an application is one of the most common reasons for denial. Medical records, prescription information, work history, financial documents, and other information are routinely necessary for application approval. Sometimes, seemingly redundant or irrelevant information is required, so it’s easy to make mistakes and omit crucial details.
Don’t Submit Conflicting Medical Information
Sometimes claims are denied because of “conflicting medical information.” This can be something that seems minor and is easily explained during an appeal but still results in the initial claim being denied. For example, suppose a medical examination from one doctor six months ago says that the claimant has 30 percent mobility. However, a medical exam from a different doctor four months ago reported 40 percent mobility. In this example, the two diagnoses could be construed as conflicting information. In Pennsylvania, many of these inconsistencies can be explained upon the second review, so it is often smart to appeal the decision and try to clarify the situation. A qualified Lancaster disability rights lawyer can help claimants prepare appeal applications and determine how to present their cases in appeal hearings.
Don’t Claim Unemployment
Social security disability applicants typically seek benefits because of financial hardship. Being unable to work and being burdened with expensive medical bills can make it difficult to get by, so many applicants apply for unemployment to bridge the gap and maintain income until they can get disability benefits. However, unemployment is exclusively reserved for recently unemployed individuals who are actively seeking a new job. The Social Security Administration often denies disability claims from those who collect unemployment because they assume the applicant can work.
Heed all Medical Advice
When filing for a social security disability claim in Pennsylvania, it is usually necessary to visit a doctor and carefully follow all medical advice. That includes scheduling and attending follow-up visits, following dietary and physical therapy recommendations, and taking all medicines prescribed. For those who are concerned that they will be unable to follow medical orders, it’s wise to take the issue up directly with the doctor or get a second opinion.
The most important medical advice to follow is the doctor’s work recommendation. Although many Lancaster County residents struggle to make ends meet without any income, it is critical to resist the temptation to return to work when applying for disability benefits. Working against a doctor’s advice indicates that the applicant can work long-term and therefore does not qualify.
Schedule a Free Consultation to Assess a Denied Claim for Social Security Disability
Retaining an attorney can seem like an unnecessary expense when dealing with the financial difficulty following an injury. However, at Going and Plank, consultations are free. Our team can help put together an appeal that allows applicants to get all the benefits they deserve. Contact our attorneys at Going and Plank for a free consultation to find out how to stay on top of deadlines, manage “conflicting” medical records, and include all the necessary information to increase the chance of claim approval. Don’t go through the stress of a social security disability application alone; reach out today.
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