How You Can Help Your SSD Case
Pursuing Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many people. There are forms that need to be filed, complex rules that must be followed and strict deadlines that must be met. You also need to make sure that all work and medical evidence in your case is up-to-date and complete.
These are reasons it is important to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing SSD benefits in upstate South Carolina. By turning your case over to a skilled legal professional, it can ease your stress and allow your case to progress while you focus on your own health.
However, even though you are working with an attorney, there are certain steps you can take to help your claim. The lawyers of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., suggest that you:
1. Apply right away, appeal right away.
When you discover that you have a condition that is keeping from you being able to work, you immediately should begin the process of seeking disability benefits and submit your application.
It can take several months or even years for your claim ultimately to be approved, so you need to get started right away. You can file an application by calling your local Social Security office, or you can apply online at http://www.ssa.gov.
If your application is denied, you will have only 60 days (plus five days of mailing time) to appeal the decision in writing. The failure to make a timely appeal could lead to your claim being dismissed. You essentially would need to start over from scratch.
2. Make a complete list of all medical treatment you have received.
When you apply for disability benefits, you need to include the names and contact information for all doctors, nurses, case workers and other medical professionals who have provided care and treatment for you. You also will need to provide medical records related to your condition.
A lawyer can help you compile all of this information. However, you can help your lawyer by keeping track of every medical professional you have seen and the treatment you have received, including any medications that have been prescribed to you.
You need to make sure that your lawyer has the most up-to-date information as well. For instance, if you are treated for your condition while waiting for your hearing, make sure your lawyer knows about it.
3. Continue to seek medical treatment.
It is very important to any Social Security disability case that you continue to try to seek medical care for your conditions. Even if you have to prioritize your spending differently for a while, you should try to keep a relationship with a family doctor and visit at least every 2-3 months.
It is very important to continue to obtain medical records. These records will be your best evidence for the Social Security Administration that you are disabled.
Even if money is tight, most communities have free or low cost medical clinics that will see patients for little or no charge.
Keep your attorney informed about your doctor visits and your medical problems. Go to any appointments set for you.
4. Keep a journal of how your medical condition has impaired your ability to work.
Because the waiting process for disability benefits can be lengthy, it might be helpful to keep a record of your day-to-day symptoms. This ensures that when you get to a hearing, you can remember how your problems have progressed.
You can help your lawyer by keeping a journal that fully describes your daily problems and how your condition has kept you from being able to work. This can be especially helpful in certain kinds of cases, particularly those including seizures, headaches, or complaints of pain.
5. Cooperate with your attorney in preparing for your hearing.
You need to be open and honest with your lawyer. You have to describe your condition and its impact on your life as clearly and accurately as possible. You can’t exaggerate your condition.
You need to also make sure to keep your lawyer updated about the status of your condition. Return all phone calls from your attorney and keep all appointments.
This communication and cooperation will be especially important during preparation for your hearing. For instance, an attorney can increase your chances for success by helping you to prepare for questions the judge may ask about your medical condition and work history. However, you need to give your lawyer a chance to work with you on this preparation.
6. Stay persistent and hopeful.
If your initial application for SSD benefits is denied, you may face several months or even years of appeals. The key is to stay persistent and hopeful. If you need and deserve these benefits, you need to make sure that you appeal in a timely fashion and work closely with your lawyer to present the best case possible at each and every stage of your case.
As we have seen at Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., persistence and hope ultimately pay off in many cases for disabled workers and their families in their quest for benefits. However, you never will receive benefits if you simply quit after your claim is denied.
To learn more about what you can do to help your SSD case, contact us today. We can review your case for free. We won’t charge for our legal services unless you obtain benefits.