How do you know that it is time to file for disability? Here is what I have learned after 25+ of representing disability claimants:
How SSA Defines the Word “Disability”
Before you start the process, you should understand how Social Security defines the word disability. Social Security law says that you are disabled if a medically determinable condition leaves you unable to engage in “substantial activity” and that your condition has lasted or is expected to last 12 consecutive months. Substantial activity is generally defined as full time work or some other full time activity.
In order to qualify for SSDI or SSI, therefore, you must have a medical problem that impacts your reliability at work. Are you missing excessive days from work? Are you getting written up for taking too many unscheduled breaks?
Keep in mind that Social Security is not just concerned about your current job. In order to win you have to prove that you would not be reliable at any job, even a simple, low stress, entry-level job.
If your real life experience demonstrates that you are not reliable because of a medical condition, the next question to ask is “do I have a doctor who is willing to support me?”
Medical Records a Necessity
You may have significant medical issues and a poor attendance record at work, but if you don’t have a history of on-going medical treatment and doctor who will support your disability claim, you will find it almost impossible to win.
Similarly, you will find it difficult to win if you don’t have a firm diagnosis. Your doctor will need to explain in writing why the symptoms you are experiencing and your medication side effects prevent you from performing the duties of that simple, entry-level job.
- In my practice, by the way, I create a brief functional capacity evaluation form that I send to your doctor to fill out. This form asks about work activity limitations that I know from experience will convince a judge that you can no longer work reliably.
Are You Over Age 50?
I would also advise you that in 2017, your age is an important factor in your disability case. If you are younger than age 50, you will have an uphill battle.
So, if you are age 50 or older, struggling with attendance and reliability at work, you have an on-going medical treatment record and support from your doctor, should you apply?
Can You Survive the Long Delay?
My response to this questions is “yes, probably.” I say “probably” because the claim evaluation process can be very frustrating. First of all, there is a very good chance that you could be waiting a very long time for a decision. Even the strongest claims are often denied, and by the time you go through the appeals and hearing process, you could end up waiting 2 to 3 years before you see the first payment. This means that you are going to have to find a way to survive without working for around 3 years – and there is no guarantee that you will win.
You will earn more money, enjoy social interaction with co-workers, and feel more fulfilled if you work as long as you can prior to filing. Only when you get to the point where you absolutely have no choice but to stop working should you look to Social Security disability for benefits.
My experience has been that judges will be much more sympathetic to claimants who have tried and tried to remain in the workforce and who ended up filing disability because they literally had no other choice.
Call to Get Started
If you find yourself with no other choice but to file for disability, I can help you navigate the confusing and frustrating waters of the Social Security disability system. If we agree to work together, there are no up front fees and I get paid a percentage of past due benefits. Call me at 770-393-4985 or email me using this form and I’ll be happy to give you a no obligation claim evaluation or to learn more.