Published February 9, 2012
If you find yourself dealing with a long-term disability, one of the first places you should turn is the Social Security disability program. The benefits are essential for those who need them, but this highly complicated federal system can be difficult to navigate. There are things you can do to improve your chances of successfully establishing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), and I hope to cover those in this and upcoming articles.
First, it’s essential to understand SSA’s eligibility requirements. Social Security does not allow for partial disability benefits—you are either disabled or not. You also must meet certain technical requirements regarding your work history and payment of Social Security taxes. You must prove that you are unable to perform any of the work you have done in the 15 years before you became disabled, and you must prove that you are unable to sustain the physical or mental demands of other jobs.
You must also have medical evidence and opinions about the symptoms and limitations caused by your condition, specifically how it affects your ability to work. The SSA will have its own doctors assess you, and to prove your disability claim, you must also present evidence, preferably from your treating doctors, concerning those limitations. You are strongly encouraged to enlist the services of an attorney who specializes in disability law. They have “been there/done that” time and time again and are in the best position to prove your case.
Beyond proving your disability, there are other factors that may affect the likelihood of approval of your claim and your long-term financial well-being. With 30 years of legal experience, I have learned that there are ways to improve your chances of winning a disability claim. This article is a start, and there are more tips to come. Keep an eye here or check out www.robertsonwendt.com for more insight into this complex area of law.
Robertson H. Wendt, a Charleston attorney, is a board certified Social Security disability specialist. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-723-6555.