Certain physical and mental conditions that impair an individual’s ability to work may qualify for Disability benefits if criteria are met. To receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), medical documentation that includes a diagnosis of the claimed condition must be provided to verify your disability.
While documenting treatment for physical injuries or chronic medical conditions often involves a diagnosis and history of treatment, mental conditions can present certain kinds of challenges. People often suffer from depression or anxiety for years without seeking treatment. There may be little in the way of medical history that verifies a psychological disability.
The list of physical and mental impairments that qualify for SSDI and SSI is substantial. If you can no longer work or are having difficulty maintaining gainful employment due to physical or mental conditions, contact the Social Security disability attorneys to schedule a consultation. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the SSDI application process and can help to make the legal process hassle-free.
The following kinds of physical and mental impairments may qualify someone for Social Security disability benefits:
Although most first time applications for SSDI or SSI are rejected, many are approved on appeal. There are four levels of appeal: Reconsideration; Hearing by an administrative law judge; Review by the Appeals Council; and Federal Court review. During the administrative hearing, you will be able to introduce additional medical evidence or testimony to support your claim. As such, it’s crucial that you document your condition with relevant medical records, letters from your doctors, and your work history.
In some cases you may be asked to be examined by a doctor working for the Social Security Administration (SSA). Having your own specialist examine you shortly after is important to ensure that the SSA physician does not downplay, dispute, or otherwise misdiagnose your physical injuries or mental health condition.
Although most people don’t immediately think of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or eating disorders when they think of disability benefits, mental conditions can be extremely debilitating. It can be difficult to document how mental health impacts your ability to work. Seeking help from a qualified medical doctor and mental health professional establishes a record of your condition and can help you to qualify for disability benefits.
Stage #1: Initial
The initial disability benefits application can be filed at your nearest local Social Security office, over the telephone, or online.
Stage #2: Request for Reconsideration
Many first-time applications are denied for lack of relevant medical evidence, incomplete forms, failure to attend exams, and for several other common, avoidable reasons. If denied, it is important to file an appeal by requesting a reconsideration of the decision. A reconsideration is a complete review of the claim by the SSA (or state Disability Determination Services if appealing a disability decision) who had no part in the first decision. That person will look at all the evidence used to make the original decision, plus any new evidence. You have 60 days from the date you receive the letter from SSA denying your claim to request an appeal.
Stage #3: Hearing
If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you have the right to a hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge who had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of your case. The hearing is your best chance at receiving a favorable decision. Make sure you have an experienced attorney by your side to represent your case in front of the court.
Step #4: Appeals Council
If you disagree with the hearing decision, you may request review by the Social Security’s Appeals Council. If all goes well and the claim is granted, you will receive notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. Some people, however, will continue to be denied at this stage. If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision or if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, you may file a lawsuit in federal district court. An experienced attorney may be necessary if your case is brought to federal court.
Your Burden of Proof is essential to prove the long-term disability
Disability applicants bear the burden of proving their disability. The SSA rules state that you are disabled when:
Proving your disability with the help of relevant documentation is crucial to the success of your claim. The SSA’s Blue Book contains the criteria that must be shown in your medical documentation. The Blue Book contains a listing of medical criteria for the evaluation of impairments in adults age 18 or over. The criteria may also apply to the evaluation of impairments in children under age 18 if the condition has a similar effect on younger children as it does on adults.
The SSA will require different types of documentation that fall under two general classifications:
The social security disability application process is very systematic. Having an attorney by your side who is knowledgeable and experienced in the SSA’s process can help make the application hassle-free.
A disability claim is initiated by filing an application in person, online, or over the telephone. There are several parts to an application for benefits:
An experienced legal professional can handle the entire SSI application process to ensure that all documentation is provided upfront and reduce your chances of being denied.