When injury or illness makes it impossible to work a normal job, social security disability insurance (SSDI) is here to help you stay on your feet -- at least, in theory. In practice, disability cases can sometimes be lengthy and difficult to see to a successful conclusion. If you plan to apply for disability, then it is important to understand both the process you will face and the requirements that you must meet.
As a general rule, it is important to apply for disability benefits as soon as you believe that you are eligible. This means that it is a good to idea to begin to application process shortly after an injury that has left you unable to work. If you have just received your diagnosis, then it is a good idea to consult the SSDI impairments listing. Conditions given here automatically qualify for disability benefits, although this list is not exclusive. In other words, you may still qualify even if your particular condition is not found on the list.
Once you apply, you will need to attend a disability interview. This is often conducted in person, but sometimes an interview will be conducted by phone instead. You will need to acquire whatever medical records you can, along with documentation from your worker's compensation claim, if any, and basic information about your spouse and children. The more information you have readily available, the greater the likelihood that your disability claim will be approved quickly.
What If You Are Denied?
Disability claims are often denied due to a lack of proper documentation or issues that make a disability seem less disabling than it truly is. In fact, more than half of all disability claimants are denied on their first application. Luckily, a denial does not mean that you will not qualify for disability. Once denied, you can begin the process of appealing the decision. This is generally more complex than the initial application process, and this is the point where having an advocate in your corner is likely to be most beneficial.
Note that you shouldn't allow concerns over a rejected application to prevent you from applying. It is important to apply for disability as soon as possible. If your application is denied and later appealed, you will receive back payments for the period during which you should have been covered.
When to Hire an Attorney
Many people seek out disability attorneys before their initial application, but this isn't necessary. It is often better to apply as soon as you can and then seek legal representation if your claim is rejected. Once you enter the appeals process, having an attorney on your side gives your case the best chance of success. An experienced disability lawyer will be able to review your original application materials and records to determine the likely cause of your initial rejection.
Once this has been established, your disability lawyer will represent you during your appeals hearing. Their job is not only to handle the legal side of your case, but also to make it clear to the social security administration that your disability represents a true impairment. This sort of advocacy is invaluable and gives you the best possible chance of receiving the benefits that you need.