The Social Security Disability Insurance program in the United States provides financial assistance to disabled individuals who are unable to work to earn a living and support themselves or their families. Each year the Social Security Administration denies approximately 70% of the social security disability claims that it receives. Applicants who are denied must file an appeal. The social security disability appeal process is complex and lengthy, taking as long as two years to complete. The best medicine for disability claim denial is prevention. The social security disability application process puts a lot of responsibility on the applicant. To prevent your disability claim from being denied, it’s important to understand and avoid some of the common reasons so many claims are denied in the first place. Here, we’ve listed some common mistakes to avoid while navigating the social security disability process to ensure you have the best chance for approval.

Mistakes on Your Claim Forms

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the social security disability process is notoriously bureaucratic and heavy on paperwork. It can be hard to keep track of required forms and submission deadlines, especially when you are dealing with the added stress of a debilitating mental or physical illness or injury. This is why it’s extra important to double or triple check all requirements and forms before submission. Ask a friend or family member to look things over for you, or better yet, a legal professional who specializes in social security disability.

Missing Your Consultative Exam

Sometimes the Social Security Administration will request that an applicant attend an exam performed by a third-party medical expert. These are known as consultative exams. These are usually requested when the information provided is insufficient to make a decision on your social security disability claim. An independent physician under contract with the Social Security Administration must preform these exams. They are not for the purpose of delivering medical treatment. Their purpose is to provide medical information about a claimant’s condition and limitations. These exams can be physical or psychological and include labs, x-rays, or other procedures as determined by the examiner. If you refuse or fail to attend this exam, the SSA will almost certainly deny your social security disability claim.

Not Having a Supportive Doctor

Having a doctor who understands your condition is key to a successful social security disability case. The last thing you need while dealing with your disability is a doctor who isn’t in tune with their patient’s needs. There are key steps your doctor can take to improve your chances of approval. A supportive doctor will provide a statement supporting your disability case. This note should detail your symptoms and functional limitations, provide a prognosis, and explain how and why your condition interferes with your ability to maintain gainful employment.

Your doctor is also responsible for providing detailed medical documentation to the Social Security Administration that supports your disability claim. Medical documentation may include medical history, lab results, detailed diagnoses, clinical findings and “residual function capacity” forms. Though the SSA often requests a 3rd party evaluation by an independent doctor, any documentation proactively provided by your doctor will hold more weight when determining whether or not you qualify for social security disability benefits.

Delaying Medical Attention

A well-established treatment history is vital to getting your disability approved. Claims examiners want to see that you’ve received medical care for your condition regularly and recently. A solid history of treatment helps to establish the seriousness of your condition and how it has impaired your abilities. This includes a medical history detailing your response to treatment and prognosis of outcome. This is why it’s very important to seek complete medical treatment any time you are injured. Seemingly minor injuries can have long-term consequences or get unexpectedly worse over time. Without proper documentation, you could be compromising the success of a disability claim down the road.

Not Having Legal Help

Many Social Security Disability claims are denied due to simple mistakes that people could easily avoid with proper guidance. Utilizing the services of a qualified disability attorney can help you avoid the common pitfalls of the application process. A qualified social security disability lawyer can help an applicant prepare their paperwork properly. Their oversight ensures that the SSA receives the medical evidence needed to support your claim. Besides the application, they also provide advisement on the complete claim process to provide you the best chance of success. They can help you select doctors that will support your case and help to navigate the consultative exam process successfully.

Social Security Disability Insurance pays out $143 billion each year to more than 11 million Americans unable to work. Due to rising disability fraud, the screening and application process for social security disability benefits has become very strict. This has prevented many unqualified applicants from taking advantage of the system. Unfortunately, this also means disabled applicants are often denied benefits that they truly need. Congress is working to reform the lengthy application process without sacrificing the measures needed to prevent fraudulent claims. Though successfully applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be daunting, it is possible. Optimize your chances for approval with help from a qualified legal professional to ensure you get the support you need.