We often get questions about the application process. We hope these tips will help take the stress out of applying for disability.
First - consider if you qualify:
To qualify for disability you must have a severe impairment that prevents you from working, that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months (or a terminal condition that will result in your death)
Second: Your doctors are your strongest source of evidence
The Social Security Disability application asks for information about any treatment you have received for your disabling condition. Although you know how your disability impairs your ability to work, Social Security requires evidence from your treating doctors to show how your conditions impact your life. Social Security needs to know HOW your condition impacts your life - not just that you cannot work. Your doctor may be able to explain your limitations or activities you struggle with, either in their chart notes or in a letter. However, a statement from your doctor that you are unable to work typically is not helpful because Social Security needs to know WHY you cannot work.
Your doctors are your strongest support for a successful disability case. If you are not treating your conditions that keep you from working, Social Security may not have enough evidence to find you are disabled. We completely understand if you're unable to work, the cost of seeing a doctor may be a concern for you and your family. We recommend looking into free or low-cost insurance options, including the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) to ensure you are receiving the treatment you need.
If a doctor prescribes treatment, it is important that you follow through on treatment. Social Security has recently changed their rules and can now consider if you do not follow what your doctor prescribes.
Third: We recommend keeping a notebook that contains the following:
1.) A list of the doctors, nurse practitioners, therapists, physical therapists, and other providers you have seen for your disabling condition. Include their office location where you were seen.
2.) A list of any hospitalizations or ER visits, including dates and locations.
3.) A list of any major testing or imaging (this includes diagnostic blood work, MRIs, CT scans, etc.) Keep a list of the dates of these tests and where they were performed.
4.) A list of medications you are prescribed.
5.) A log of how your disabling condition impacts your day. For example, if you have seizures, keep a log of the seizures - document the dates that they occur, the duration, the symptoms you experience after. The same documentation can be done for any number of disabling conditions - headaches, fatigue from MS, even debilitating pain.
Life is hard when you're disabled and this notebook will help you stay organized with your medical care. It will also ensure Social Security gets the medical evidence that will support your disability claim. Finally, it will help your attorney to make sure you are presenting the strongest case possible to Social Security.
Third: Set up a MySSA.gov account. You can set up an account online to be able to file for disability benefits online. This website will verify your identity. Once you have a login to MySSA, you can learn more about the benefits for which you are eligible.
You can apply online or you can also set up an appointment to make an application in person at your local Social Security office. To make an appointment with Social Security, call 1-800-772-1213.
Contact the Law Office of Sarah Crosby if you have any questions about your disability and the Social Security the application process.