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What can I do to improve my chances for a Social Security Disability approval?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  32 Comments

See how to improve your chances for a Social Security Disability approval. Learn the information to gather and the actions to take while your claim pends.

disability-approvalList All the Conditions That Contribute To Your Disability

There are several things you can do to improve the chances for receiving a Social Security Disability approval. First, be sure to list all medical problems you have, regardless of how severe they are or when they began. Include old injuries if you have any ongoing limitations related to the injury. It’s easy to forget limitations that we’ve had for a long time, because we’ve learned to live with them. Sometimes old limitations combined with new problems result in a disability approval. More details about filing for disability can be found in our article “How Do I File an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits?”

Be Realistic and Honest in Your Disability Claim

When completing your disability forms and talking with Social Security, it is helpful to be realistic and forthright about what you cannot do, and also about what you can do, given your condition. Be sure to avoid exaggeration. Also, at doctors’ appointments avoid telling your doctor courteously that you feel “fine” or “okay” when you do not. Be sure that your doctors know when you have medical or psychological problems that are being treated by another practitioner. Additionally, it is important to follow your physician’s guidance, including attending requested appointments and getting your prescriptions filled on time.

Be Responsive to the Social Security Disability Application Process

Another way to help your claim is to answer questions as directly and clearly as possible and to promptly respond to any written or telephone requests for additional information. If there is an unavoidable delay, let the claims examiner know that you are working on it. When answering questions, limit your answer to the specific question that was asked. If asked to go to a consultative examination with a doctor whom Social Security selects, be sure to attend and participate cooperatively.

Communicate with Your Doctors

Your chances of disability approval may also be improved if your doctors understand what Social Security expects of them. Your claims examiner will ask your treating physicians to give Social Security a report about your diagnosis, your limitations, and your capabilities. It is important that your doctor complete the report, not just with accurate information, but also in the manner requested. Some claims are denied because the treating physician doesn’t respond or doesn’t provide an adequate report. To avoid a delay caused by the need for a consultative examination, be sure that you give Social Security all the information you have about your medical conditions, and that they receive all the medical records and reports that they request from your physicians.

How Attorneys for Social Security Can Help

A Social Security lawyer can be invaluable because he or she is experienced in explaining the Social Security disability claim process to physicians and can follow-up for you on outstanding requests, helping you to get disability approval.

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  • Published: 11 months ago on March 3, 2016
  • By:
  • Last Modified: December 1, 2016 @ 9:25 pm
  • Filed Under: Apply for SSD
  • Sandy

    Hi…I applied for SSD in October 2015 and received a denial letter in January 2016. An appeal was filed in February 2016. I am still waiting on a hearing date as of now. What is the average wait time for a hearing date?
    Thanks

  • robin

    Dear Kay,
    I have been denied ssdi on the initial, hearing and appeals on April 2nd 2016. When I first applied it was fo chronic pain, and a hard time walking. 10 years ago I was involved in a auto accident. I was hit by a semi on the drivers side of my van. I suffered a broken left arm with plates and screws, a broken left scapula plates and screws, a brokken left femur rod and screws, compound fracture of lower left leg rod and screws also much tissue loss it looks like a shark took a huge bite out of my calf, broken right foot I dont know how many bones were broken there but there are lots of plates and screws it has also been fused. I had a muscle flap placed on my right anke, that saved my foot. I also broke 6 ribs and am prone to mrsa and infections. I have since started over on August 1st 2016, I know have severe arthritis in my right foot, bursa of my left hip, broke my left clavical and tore out my ligaments and the clavical fused to the scapula. I did not realize that I broke that shoulder due to chronic pain. It must have broke when I fell at some point, I am very prone to falls. I have also developed facet joint syndrom in my neck and upper back. I am on norco and valium on a regular basis I am also on a daily antidepressant and medication for GERD. The man that interviewed me in August could not beleive I was denied. Do you think there is a chance I might be approved this time? I feel constantly on edge wondering.
    Thank you so much for looking at my question.

    • robin

      Dear Kay,
      I also forgot to mention I will be 51 next week.
      Robin

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Robin,

        Your now being over age fifty might also improve your chances, especially if you have worked in only one or two occupations.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robin,

      There is a possibility of approval because your condition has worsened. Be sure to note that you are prone to falling and indicate how often it happens. I also suggest that you hire an experienced Social Security attorney to help you present your claim. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front, and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Robin Hop

        Dear Kay,
        Thanyou for your response, my case is now with dds and thet have received all my medical records as of today. When I hear something I will post their decsion,
        Thanks again,
        Robin

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Robin.

  • Tay

    I have had sever anxiety for over a decade and it is only getting worse and is getting to the point where it’s preventing me from doing my job. I’ve changed jobs thinking something different would make it easier and it’s still only gotten worse. I’ve gone to the dr’s several times over the life of my illness is utter panic. They’ve tried upping doses, adding on different medications and nothing has helped. What are the odds of me qualifying for disability? And what happens about health insurance?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tay,

      If you have to reduce work to less than $1,130 gross earnings, you can file a claim. I cannot predict whether you will be approved. It takes two to five months for the claim to be processed. Social Security Disability (SSDI) is not paid for the first five full-calendar months of disability. Medicare starts with the twenty-fifth month of SSDI benefits. You might check with your employer to find out whether you are covered by a short-term disability policy that would provide income while your claim is pending.

      If your work earnings are low enough that your Social Security benefit is less than $753 and you do not have a spouse earning enough income that some counts as yours, you could be eligible for ongoing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to supplement your SSDI. In most states SSI eligibility results in eligibility for Medicaid, which covers doctors, hospitals, and medications. You might also qualify for government-subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act while waiting for the determination regarding SSI and Medicaid or for Medicare to start. You can learn more about this at http://www.healthcare.gov.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Priscilla Velez

      Hi Kay. I had an alj hearing on June 13, 2015. About how long does it take to get a decision?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Priscilla,

        The guideline for receiving a hearing decision is sixty days after the hearing; however, sometimes it takes longer. You can call the hearing office to get a status report.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  • Mary W

    I got denied last year I was 49, I am re-applying Mat 1st, I’ve been see Doctor’s to build a solid case. My RFC Assessment my psychiatrist filled out all question with either Marked or Extreme and she also lists 4 or more of the impairments on the list that SSDI has on the list of things to get approved, that is this a good thing.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mary,

      As you describe your RFC assessment, I’d say that you have a good chance of being approved medically.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Sarah

    I am 48 yrs old I have been off work on std.2 mo.AgI they denied me but my pcp will not release me to go back to work and std coverage does not agree with his findings.I decided to seek a second opinion which this MD SAYS THE SAME THING.I HAVE SEVERE ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS. VERY HIGH THYROID AND LIVER LEVELS.I SEE A PSYCHIATRIST 2 TIMES A MONTH AND THEY AGREE WITH MY PCP.WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF BEING APPROVED THIS TIME

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sarah,

      You seem to be asking about a denial for benefits on a private or employer-sponsored short-term disability (STD) insurance policy. The policy likely allows you to appeal. I recommend that you appeal and submit the second opinion to support your appeal. If you are expected to be off work a full year, you can also apply for Social Security Disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Dear Kay, I was first denied for disability about 2 years ago, I reapplied
    and finally after almost 2 years finally got my hearing 3 days ago. But the Judge, after asking me several questions wants to have 2 Doctors there (by phone I think)one Psyc… and the Ortho.my attorney said it will take another 2 to 3 months for my next hearing? I have been seeing a Psyc. weekly for the past year and a half and even though I have not seen an ortho. I have seen my primary Dr. almost monthly and pain management Dr.s and physical therapy with absolutely no relief, I am so stressed out now, what should I expect?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Leah,

      Apparently the judge wants to ask some questions about your medical conditions or even about information in your medical records, so he or she is asking for an expert opinion from those two specialties. In the meantime, you might talk with your attorney to find out if the attorney has reviewed your full claim/appeal file to see that the records from your treating psychiatrist and pain management doctors and physical therapists are in file–also any statements that you or your attorney may have gathered from those doctors. If not, it might be worthwhile for the attorney to get the file and check just so that you know your own treating providers records and statements are being considered.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Lisa Digbie

    I have back pain, high blood pressure, hypothyrodism, arthritis in my right knee and sever pain in that same knee. I have applied and been denied for SSDI, and Disability. I have also been before a judge and still been denied. I’ve been appealing each denial and now I was told that I’ve ran out of my appeals and won’t be approved for SSI nor disability. I’m always in pain and it gets worse when I sit to long, try to walk a long time, or just standing. Are there anything that I can do to appeal, do I need to get a lawyer or just give up, find a job and grin and bear the pain?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lisa,

      If you have filed a request for an Appeals Council review and have been denied and you are still in the sixty-day appeals period, you can file suit in federal District Court. Most people need an attorney to help with that. Alternatively, you could file a new claim, claiming a new later date of disability; however, you if you are not insured on the later date, you would not be able to get SSDI, only SSI, if medically approved.

      One thing that could help a claim or appeal would be to get into a vocational rehabilitation program where you would be evaluated to determine whether there are any occupations you can perform with your limitations. If there are not, the vocational rehabilitation assessment would make good evidence. If there occupations you could do, then you would receive good direction for new employment.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Shaquanna Hopkins

        Hello Kay,

        My daughter is 5. She recently got diagnosed with Adhd & got behavioral problems at home and at school. She takes methylphenidate. Can I apply for ssi for her?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Shaquanna,

          I am not able to predict whether your daughter is medically eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It might be helpful to read the childhood disability section of the article “What Medical Conditions Are Required to Meet SSI Disability Qualifications and to Get an SSI Approval?” If you then think she might be eligible or you are not sure, I suggest that you file an application for her to get a determination. The article can be found under the SSI tab on the navigation bar at the top of this web page.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • donny watson

    9 Months ago i was injured in a head on collision. my injuries included a broken femar which i now have a rod and screws in my left leg 9 ccrews in my knee which cause chronic pain from standing. Also have had 2 surgeries on that knee. Multiple fractures in the same knee and crushed my left foot with over 13 broken bones in the foot all have healed but i now have severe chronic pain from these injuries and now take pain meds daily and must use a cane to walk from severe arthritis my question is what are my chqnces of getting approved for dissability I’m 36 yrs old

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donny,

      Whether or not you are eligible depends on how much your pain and/or pain medications would keep you from working in a job that did not require prolonged standing or walking. This in part could also depend on your educational background. The only way to find out whether you might qualify is to file a claim. Given your young age, you might also contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation for vocational guidance on work you might be able to perform or be trained to perform.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Donald Greene

    163 Foster Street I have cardio vascular disease and recently had heart surgery. A double bypass and 1 other artery was so bad it was clamped. I also have type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. I also have an old injury to my right wrist that has it locked. I am on a lot of medications that cause dizziness. I will be 65 years old in 3 months. I worked as a maintenance tech that requires a lot of heavy lifting and climbing. I had to start my ssi to pay all my incoming bills. I also applied for disability. The decision was delayed for 3 months. Should I go ahead and get a disability lawyer.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donald,

      I suggest that you wait until you get a decision. If you are denied, yes, get an experienced Social Security attorney. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award before sending your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Tiffany coats

    I have trigeminal neuralgia along with severe neck and back issues and knee surgery. I take 7 medications 3 times a day. These medications effect my everyday life With horrible side effects. What are the statistics of getting ssd with the condition I have?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tiffany,

      I cannot give you the odds of being approved for disability benefits. If you have stopped working or you are earning less than $1,090 gross per month, I suggest that you file an application to get a determination.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Robin Rodriguez

    In May 2014 I was hospitalized for 10 days and diagnosed with polymyositis. I received short term disability for 3 months and returned to work light duty and never full duty. I’m in Law enforcement. After a,few months my CK level increased and with fever and muscle pain. My doctor has now pulled me off work again and will not return to my job or carter Dealing with long term disability but having issue’s. Can I apply for Soctal security benifits. My employer is now going to terminate my employment.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robin,

      Yes, you can and should apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) while you are pursuing long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Your LTD will be reduced for months that overlap with Social Security, and you will be overpaid LTD; but you can use your back SSDI to repay the overpayment. Note that if you are approved for SSDI, your problems with LTD will probably go away.

      If you lose your employer-sponsored health insurance, you can enroll in insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) if you sign up within thirty days of your insurance ending. You may qualify for some government subsidy to help with the premiums. For more information, go to http://www.healthcare.gov.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Frank Burbank

    I worked in the USA for over 20 years and moved to Canada 11 years ago. I was just approved for CPP Disability ( Canada’s version of SSDI) for lower back problems and want to apply for international benefits on SSDI, how long and how likely am i to receive SSDI. I was a legal resident alien at the time I was in the US and am collecting a 10% disability from my service with the US Army for my right shoulder. I should be getting my US citizenship soon.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Frank,

      Apologies for the delay in responding. Our website has had a software problem, which is now resolved.

      Your situation is a bit complicated and you will need to talk with a knowledgeable Social Security representative in an office that is likely to handle international claims between the U.S. and Canada. The following Social Security web pages lists those office and their contact information. http://www.ssa.gov/foreign/canada.htm

      In general, for retirement earnings from both countries are combeined to determine payment amount and the claim is handled by the Social Security administration of only one country. I am not sure how disability claims work. If you had worked only in the U.S. and had not had U.S. earnings in the past 11 years you would not be insured under the U.S. system for disability (retirement, yes; but disability, no). I do not know whether this applies in an international claim. As far as how long it will take, may guess is quite a while.

      Best regards,

      Kay

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