The rules for applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) are confusing for many attorneys, let alone people who are faced with debilitating medical conditions. The on-line process can seem superficial and not centered on why you can’t work and need real and immediate help just to get by. Generally the people at your local SS office are helpful but sometimes, like any governmental office, they are not the most compassionate people in the world.
DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
We understand that you may be the main breadwinner for your family and feel like your slowly sinking under the weight of an injury or disease process that prevents you from working. It’s no secret that given the choice most people would rather work than be sidelined because of their medical problems. What’s worse is that sometimes co-workers or supervisors are not sympathetic and can even make your condition worse.
Practical note: The process of applying for SSD requires you to provide lists of various things. The best thing you can do in anticipation of applying is to make lists of information you will need to provide later. This also will help your attorney if the matter needs to be appealed.
REMEMBER, there is no “fast track” in applying for SS benefits. You do need to prepare to apply to give yourself the best chance of being granted benefits the first time around. If you are denied, DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! We will take your appeal for a hearing before an Administrative Law judge and will present the case for you.
If you are thinking about applying for SSD, here are the first 10 things you should do:
1. Schedule a meeting with your main treating physician and to discuss whether or not they will help you. BEFORE GOING TO THIS MEETING (which can just be at a scheduled appointment) make a list of the questions you want to ask. Many people feel intimidated by their doctors and are afraid to ask questions. REMEMBER, YOUR DOCTOR WORKS FOR YOU. HE/SHE DOESN’T GET PAID UNLESS YOU GO SEE HIM/HER. If they seem to busy or uninterested to answer your questions, you need to find another doctor.
2. Go to the meeting/appointment with your doctor and ask if he/she can help you. This can be as simple as having them write a letter or memo to go in your file that spells out your medical condition and why it is serious enough to prevent you from working. That can go a long way in the initial application process and may catch someone’s eye. What I like to see is a letter describing your medical condition and an explanation of why it prevents you from working in ANY JOB, not just the job you were doing at the time your condition got worse.
3. Before you leave the doctor’s office make sure you understand what your current DIAGNOSIS is. This is important because many people don’t really know what their “medical diagnosis” is. Also, make sure you understand whether the doctor feels your condition is serious enough for you to apply for SSD. Your doctor can be your strongest ally or your worst enemy in the application process so you need to know where they stand on your condition.
4. Put together a list of all of the doctors you have treated with in the past 15 years and a note about what they have treated you for. Be sure to include addresses and telephone numbers since you will need to give this information in the initial application and at the appeal level if you need to go that far.
5. Put together a list of all medications you take, how often you take them, who prescribed them and what they are for. Also include what side effects they have on you since this could be crucial to your case later on.
6. Make a list of your employment for the last 15 years. Don’t forget to give your past employer’s company name, address and dates of employment.
7. Make a list of what main medical condition(s) you have that prevent you from working. Don’t be shy about listing everything diagnosis.
8. Write a page or two about what your average day is like. What time you get up, if you are able to make meals, clean up around your house, take care of your kids, etc. Don’t forget to list all the things around the house that you can no longer do because of your medical condition and who helps you.
9. Make a list of how far you can walk, how long you can sit for, how long you can stand for, if you can bend and touch your toes, if you can squat, crouch, stoop down, climb a ladder, balance on one foot. IF you need help with personal items such as bathing or dressing make sure to list these along with the names of the people who help you. These all become important is a general assessment of whether you can continue in the workplace.
10. CALL ATTORNEY JEFF HARTKOP AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE.