When you are filing for Social Security disability benefits, the process can seem long and confusing. To help you along the way, here is a list of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Collecting unemployment while waiting for disability: While many experts are divided on whether or not a claimant should collect unemployment and disability at the same time, many Social Security disability lawyers advise against it. If you file for Social Security disability benefits while collecting unemployment benefits, you are saying two mutually exclusive statements at the same time. On the one hand, if you are filing for Social Security disability, you are stating that you have been unable to perform work and also anticipate that you will be unable to perform work. On the other hand, if you are collecting unemployment benefits, you are stating that you are ready and available to work if you find a job that suits your skills. Despite this, there are exceptions to this rule so be sure to speak with your Social Security Disability attorney for advice on your particular case.
Not quitting work when applying for disability: If you are earning more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, then you will have to either quit your job or work fewer hours to be eligible for disability benefits. Currently, the SGA amount is $1,040 per month, but it is adjusted yearly.
Not Seeking Treatment: When the Social Security Administration makes a decision on awarding benefits, they will try to discern the credibility of the statements of your claim. One of the ways in which they determine your credibility is seeing whether or not you have sought treatment for your condition. If you have not sought treatment, then Social Security will likely find that there is little to no basis for your claim or that your condition is not serious enough to warrant a disability claim.
Not Taking Medication: While evaluating the credibility of your claim, Social Security will see if you have followed the treatment that your doctor recommended for you, such as, taking medication, using assistive devices (such as a cane or a brace), or having undergone a suggested surgery. Despite this, there are exceptions to this rule, such as, when the claimant cannot afford the treatment, if the side effects are worse than the symptoms, or if the treatment is against your religion.
Not Preparing for a Social Security disability hearing: Most claimants filing for Social Security benefits will be initially denied and will need to appeal. In order to get a hearing in front of a judge, it takes two levels of appeals. It can often take up to a year or more to get your hearing date. When you are finally granted a hearing, the last thing that you will want is to show up unprepared. It is important to have with you up-to-date medical records and a statement from your doctor. You are permitted to review your entire Social Security case file, and it is advised that you do so. In reviewing your file, pay particular attention to see if there are any mistakes or missing records. Prepare arguments as to why Social Security was wrong in denying your benefits. If you are represented by a Social Security attorney, you will only have to show up to the hearing date, as your lawyer will have already prepared your case for you.