Social Security Disability Claims: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

plank-dennis-Lancaster-County-PennsylvaniaBy Dennis L. Plank, Lancaster Attorney

People who have paid into Social Security for years and become disabled might think collecting Social Security Disability benefits is easy. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. Between 60 and 70 percent of Social Security Disability claims get rejected.

The good news? With the help of a Lancaster attorney skilled in SSD law, applicants can appeal a denied claim, and the outcome is often better. While some appeals can take the form of reconsideration, where the person basically submits the same information again, it’s more likely that the individual will have a disability hearing before an administrative judge. These applicants can significantly improve their chances of receiving benefits by seeking the help of an experienced Social Security Disability claims attorney.

An experienced Lancaster lawyer specializing in denied SSD claims can assist in the appeals process in the following ways:

  • Help gather the facts that are most likely to persuade the Social Security Administration to approve your claim
  • Ensure the proper medical evidence is supplied from doctors to prove your disability
  • Prepare the applicant to answer the judge’s questions
  • Move the case through the system more quickly and efficiently

While it makes sense to consult with an SSD denied claims Lancaster attorney before filing an initial claim, people who choose to do it on their own must be careful to avoid the mistakes that often result in a denied SSD claim.

Tip from a Lancaster Attorney: Don’t Put Off Seeing a Doctor Before Filing an SSD Claim

Part of the process of awarding Social Security Disability benefits is an examination of medical records. If the applicant did not seek treatment promptly, the disability examiner may conclude that the condition isn’t serious or that with proper treatment they might be able to work. Without a recent medical report, it is difficult to prove an individual cannot work or that they have any impairment at all.

While the absence of a doctor’s evaluation or failure to follow treatment can certainly result in a denied claim, there are a number of extenuating circumstances that may offer grounds for appeal. Among the acceptable reasons for not seeking or following treatment are a lack of health insurance, a fear of addiction to prescribed opioids, or the side effects of the treatment are worse than the symptoms.

Don’t Collect Unemployment After Filing an SSD Claim

In general, unemployment benefits and Social Security Disability benefits serve contradictory populations. While Social Security Disability benefits are for those who are unable to work, unemployment benefits assist people who are willing and able to work but can’t find a job. If an individual is collecting unemployment benefits, the Social Security Administration may deny their SSD claim because they appear ready and able to work.

As any experienced Lancaster attorney knows, there is no law that forbids Pennsylvanians from collecting both SSD and unemployment benefits. In some cases, it is permissible for people who are restricted to limited types of work. However, using unemployment as an income bridge until you receive disability benefits can easily backfire. To find out who is entitled to claim both benefits, it is always wise to discuss the individual’s situation with an SSD attorney first.

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Lancaster Attorney Tip: Don’t Keep Working Despite Medical Orders

Continuing to work or taking another job in spite of medical orders is a mistake. When someone starts a new job or keep going to work at an existing job, Social Security Administration may assume that because they are working, they are capable of earning a living, and therefore deny the SSD claim.

While it is natural for people to want to try to do some type of work to make ends meet, it is never a good idea to keep a job while trying to get approval for claims outlining disability or inability to work.

Additionally, if people do not follow their doctor’s orders, the Social Security Administration may conclude that their condition is not as limiting as they claim.

When you talk to a Lancaster attorney, the will tell you that people who have submitted an SSD claim must understand their limitations and follow their doctor’s advice. People who are able work in a limited capacity may qualify for Social Security Administration work incentives and other programs that allow people to do some work while still collecting Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Don’t Miss Deadlines Related to Your SSD Claim

Completing a Social Security Disability claim is a very complex process that requires an enormous amount of documentation and paperwork with strict time limits for submission. Even after one submits the application, they may receive requests in the mail for additional information, and those requests typically have very short deadlines. Failure to meet any of these deadlines can result in a denied claim. A Lancaster attorney may be able to help.

It’s important to promptly open mail from the Social Security Administration and act on any requests as quickly as possible. For those who are unable to meet a particular deadline, they may request an extension or have their Lancaster attorney negotiate a deadline extension for them.

If the claim is denied, they may have grounds to appeal, especially if there is a good reason for missing a deadline. Rationales can be anything from serious illness to the accidental destruction of an important document to a simple misunderstanding about the requirements. A Social Security Disability attorney can determine if applicants qualify for an appeal. Since people have just 60 days to file an appeal, it’s smart to contact your lawyer as quickly as possible to avoid missing that deadline.

Don’t Make Mistakes on Your Social Security Disability Paperwork

Of all the mistakes made when applying for Social Security Disability benefits, making mistakes on your paperwork is one of the most common. At the least, those paperwork mistakes cause delays in processing the claim, but often they result in a denied claim. Unfortunately, the application for SSD benefits requires so much information that even the most organized person can easily make an error.

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Applicants need to provide information about themselves and their families, including names, addresses, phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics involved, as well as the dates of the visits. People also need to provide the names and dosages of medications, laboratory and test results, a work history, recent W-2 forms, and more.

If the claim has already been denied due to paperwork errors, a Lancaster attorney or an SSD lawyer can help identify issues, and help the applicant gather all the information necessary for an appeal.

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A qualified Lancaster attorney can ensure people receive all the benefits they deserve. A lawyer can also provide guidance and support through the challenges and pitfalls of appealing a denied SSD claim.

Contact the Law Offices of Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster. We can assist to help appeal a denied claim and to secure benefits. Our representation is available at no cost unless we recover funds.

Want to get more information about denied Social Security disability claims? Read these articles and blogs:

Don’t Give up: Tips for Fighting Denied Social Security Disability Claims

Denied Social Security Disability Common Mistakes

Social Security Disability Appeals

Or click here to discover an even wider range of legal topics in our legal blog.

Maggie Vergenes

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