According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you typically get an initial decision regarding your disability claim within three to five months of filing. However, this figure, they stress, is dependent on a number of factors. Those factors may include how long it takes you to follow up with them on any documentation that they request, including medical records or other evidence of disability.
Getting a decision from the SSA is only half the battle. If you do not complete the paperwork properly or if you have not supplied the evidence or documentation that they need to make a determination of disability, they may deny your initial claim. That denial could delay your compensation by several months as you wait for an appeal with a court.
An attorney can help you from your first steps in the disability process, ensuring that your paperwork is complete and your documentation is not lacking any essential items that would hold up the decision-making process. If the SSA denied your initial claim, an attorney can review that claim and help you file an appeal.
What happens if my initial claim receives a denial?
If you submitted your file improperly, or if you did not provide the SSA with the information that they required to make a finding of disability, you need to appeal your case to an administrative law judge. Because of the volume of cases in the courts, an appeal can delay your case for a year or longer. Hiring an attorney to help you with your initial claim can save you from financial hardship and costly delays.
How can I best streamline the process of my disability claim?
In many cases, the SSA delays or denies claims because the applicant failed to submit necessary information for a determination of disability in a complete or timely fashion. In your claim, you must submit proof that you fit the SSA’s definition of disabled. The SSA defines disability as:
- An inability to do substantial work because of a medical condition; and
- A medical condition that has lasted, or will last, for at least one year or will result in your death.
Meeting with your doctor and providing medical records is not enough to streamline your disability application. You must keep any scheduled appointments with your local Social Security office and provide accurate and completed medical and job worksheets, as well as any additional documentation requested, in a timely fashion.
An attorney can review your case and advise you on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that result in a delay or rejection of an initial application, including:
- Applying for benefits too soon;
- Not providing sufficient documentation or providing incomplete documents; and
- Not following medical orders from your physician.
Am I entitled to compensation during the review period?
In most cases, the clock starts ticking on your entitlement to compensation from the date of your disability. Depending on the type of compensation, there may or may not be a mandatory waiting period during which you are not entitled to benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides coverage for workers, disabled surviving spouses, and children of disabled, retired, or deceased workers. This type of insurance has a mandatory five-month waiting period from the date of disability before the SSA will begin paying benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits come from a need-based program for people who have little or no income and limited resources. This program does not have a five-month waiting period.
Depending on how long your review period took, as well as how long after your disability you waited to file a claim, the SSA may offer you back pay to cover the period of time between your date of disability and date of approval. In some cases, the SSA can issue back pay retroactively for up to 12 months prior to the date of application.
What is the date of entitlement?
Your date of entitlement is the day that the SSA considers you entitled to receive disability benefits. Depending on the type of disability benefits you are applying for, the SSA may delay your date of entitlement to accommodate the five-month waiting period after your date of disability. Some benefits kick in as of the date of application, while others begin on the date of disability, after a five-month waiting period.
How can I obtain legal advice for my disability claim?
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril can review your case and provide you with counsel so you can understand and navigate the disability application process. Call today for a free consultation: 865-546-1111.