Most people assume that applying for disability benefits is like applying for most other forms of government assistance: they fill out a (sometimes lengthy) form, print out their bank statements and pay stubs, staple it all together and viola! Application complete! From here they can simply mail or drop off their applications and, most of the time, within a few days, their benefits will be ready to go.
The truth is actually much different. When you decide to ask for disability benefits, you are signing up for an involved and sometimes even invasive process. Often you will be required to track down and supply your caseworker with your medical records. You might even need to go in for new exams to make sure that your case worker has the most up to date information. There is a lot of room for error and the process can take months to complete. Then, even if you’re positive you’ve done everything correctly and you meet the SSDI requirements, you can still get denied.
First Steps After a Denial
Fortunately, receiving a denial is not the end of the road if you need to get disability benefits. There are processes in place for those who want to appeal the decision. Once you receive your Notice of Decision letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it should include a set of instructions on what you can do if you want to appeal.
Trust us when we tell you: you want to appeal! And you want to appeal quickly. The SSA only gives you sixty days to notify them that you would like to start the appeal process, so it is crucial to take action on your potential appeal right away. You absolutely do not want to miss that 60-day deadline. If you miss that deadline, you will have to start the entire process over again and file a whole new application and go through the initial review process another time.
Where things get sticky is when an application gets held up within the system. A lot of people are applying for disability benefits every single day and processing an application completely can take months. It could take even a few weeks after the decision has been made for notice of that decision to reach you.
Being Proactive Is Important
It is important to be proactive and to act quickly so that you can protect your original filing date, which is the date on which your application was first submitted. Disability benefits are disbursed according to an applicant’s original filing date, not the date of the decision. This means that the first check you receive after you apply for Social Security Disability benefits will include weeks or months worth of back pay. The government does this because it helps reimburse applicants for the time they spent waiting for a decision to come in. If you do wind up having to file a brand new application, you’ll lose out on your chance to accrue all of that back pay.
This is why, if you have been waiting for a few months and you still haven’t received the SSA’s Letter of Decision yet, you shouldn’t assume that you have been denied or that you need to give up. What you need to do, in this situation, is pick up the phone or even, if you are able, pay a visit to your local benefits office. You are absolutely allowed to call your local SSA office and to check in on your case and to see how it is progressing (or not, as the case may be). If they hedge or if they tell you that you should just wait until you receive your denial notice in the mail, it is absolutely okay to be persistent and to keep calling.
If you are issued a denial of your initial application, it is important to find out exactly why that denial was issued. If you don’t and you simply start the process over again, your new application will likely be denied for the exact same reason your first application didn’t get approved. This is particularly important if your denial is because you failed to submit your paperwork properly. Call the SSA and ask a claims manager or case worker for the exact reason that your initial claim was denied. Get the details sent to you in writing.
If your case was denied because of medical reasons, try not to get discouraged. It is likely that the SSA did not deem your condition severe enough to warrant benefit disbursement at the time of your application. You might be able to submit further documentation of your condition that will satisfy your case worker that your condition is truly severe enough to warrant benefits. You can also absolutely apply again if your condition gets worse. If you are severely debilitated, it might be worth it to get a second or third opinion on your condition to help you during your appeals process.
The Actual Appeal: What to Do
You can file paperwork to appeal the denial online. If you’re not exactly sure which forms to submit contact your local Social Security office. You can, in addition, consider hiring an attorney to manage the process. This will help ensure you fill in the right forms and your appeal process is followed to the letter.
Try not to get too frustrated if your appeal results in another denial. Most people who apply for benefits find they have to appeal denials more than once. This can actually work in your favor because your chances of receiving an approval increase significantly once you reach the administrative law hearing level.
If you sincerely feel you’re eligible for Social Security Disability benefits you should keep appealing until approved. Be prepared to fight because the process can take months or even years to complete before you start receiving payment on your claim. Eventually you will get there, and it will all have been worth it once you begin receiving the benefits you deserve.
Shift Frequency © 2017 – Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?