Applying for Social Security: How to Avoid the Pitfalls

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Many deserving people are denied benefits after applying for Social Security disability. Applicants have to deal with so much red tape when applying, including difficult legal jargon and confusing reports and forms— not to mention a long waiting process only to find out they have been denied. The process can be difficult and the denial can be heartbreaking. Below we have provided four tips for avoiding Social Security pitfalls. When it comes time to apply for Social Security benefits, these tips may help you to avoid pain and heartbreak.

1.) Be as Detailed as Possible

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to remember that you are trying to prove to someone who does not know you personally that you deserve to receive benefits. Obviously you have a story to tell, and your story is important. However, your case must be proven and the facts must speak for themselves. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep detailed facts and records that will help argue your case at each stage of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation.

2.) Appeal When You Are Denied

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they apply for Social Security Disability is failing to appeal if their claim has been denied. It is important to remember that most claims are denied after their initial submission, so being denied should be considered a normal part of the process. Many claims are also denied after the Request for Reconsideration stage. Understandably, this can cause angst and disappointment in applicants. If you have been denied, you may feel like your disability is not being properly considered, or that the SSA is not taking your case seriously. But remember, it is important to keep going, and it is important to get an attorney to help you!

3.) The RFC Form: Your Secret Weapon

The Residual Functional Capacity Form (RFC) can help you both in your initial application and in your appeal. The RFC allows your doctor to give a more detailed account of your disability and therefore provides you better evidence to prove your case (see the above tip). Medical records do not typically include specific information about your ability to function, including your ability to sit, stand, lift, carry, bend, twist, squat, stoop, reach, and manipulate with your hands and fingers. RFC forms allow doctors to specifically describe these functions in detail for those who will hear your case.

4.) Hire an Attorney

You may be wondering why you would need an attorney to file for Social Security benefits. Filing does not involve a lawyer, and you are not suing anyone, right? Right. So why hire an attorney? Because there are obstacles that get in the way between you and the benefits that you deserve. Attorneys can offer advice, like the tips listed above, that you may not have known about before and that can help you maneuver through the claims process. While you may have never applied for benefits before, attorneys are available that understand the claims process and how to prepare your case in order to give you the best chance to be granted your benefits.

Photo courtesy of: Kiukey