If you are beginning the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, you are probably aware that it is going to take a few months to have a decision made by Social Security. There are two TO-DO’s of the application process that you can easily do yourself to help out your claim!
1. Secure your own medical records
Why? There are two very good reasons:
- When a disability claim is being handled at the initial or reconsideration levels, it is processed by an adjudicator (aka disability examiner) at Disability Determination Services (DDS). Your adjudicator will be sending requests for medical records to all the doctors you listed on your initial application.
However, your adjudicator is not always successful at obtaining all your records. In fact, it is not unusual for examiners to make decisions on claims when not all of the medical evidence has been obtained. It will happen if a disability examiner simply has no success in getting the records from a particular doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. If you hired an attorney to help you with your case, they will help out with obtaining any outstanding medical records. If not, it is good for you to have copies of all your own records just in case your adjudicator has any problems.
- Most of the processing time required making a decision on a social security disability or SSI case is actually due to waiting on medical records. Therefore you must be proactive at obtaining your own medical records.
2. Respond to ALL Social Security letters and notices promptly!
A social security disability case can easily run into trouble as a result of a claimant not responding to an official notice, especially if it requires some type of response with time constraints. In some cases this constitutes a denied case.
Surprisingly, a significant percentage of disability claimants do not respond to such notices. This irresponsibility causes a delay and can potentially risk putting their social security disability claim in jeopardy. Notices from SSA include paperwork that needs to be signed (an example is the Authorization to Disclose Information to SSA) and forms that must be filled out (such as a Function Report or Work History Report).
It is very important to always respond promptly to letters and notices sent by any office connected to the Social Security Administration.