Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a long process at times. However, a claimant should not just sit back and hope that their claim is one of the lucky ones that get awarded. The truth is that Social Security Administration takes many things into consideration when making a decision on a claim and there are some proactive steps that you, as the claimant, can take to make it more likely that your claim will be awarded. The best claims are those that have a combination of objective medical evidence, such as x-rays or scans as well as supportive information from your doctors.
Things you can do to strengthen your claim include:
- Make sure to see your doctor(s) on a regular basis throughout the entire process.
- Make sure your doctors fill out Medical Source Statements (MSS) or Letters of Support (LOS). This is important because at a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is required by law to give more weight to the opinion of your treating physician(s).
- See specialists for your specific conditions (such as a cardiologist for your heart condition or an orthopedic doctor for your knee). This is important in order to prove that your conditions are as severe as you say they are. For example, Social Security may not believe that your depression is severe if you do not see a psychiatrist on a regular basis.
- Follow up with your doctors and hospitals to ensure your medical records get forwarded to Social Security, especially if they contain any x-rays, tests, scans, MRIs or procedures that you have had done. This type of objective evidence is extremely helpful to your claim.
- Be sure to follow all directions from your doctors. This includes things like taking your prescribed medications and attending physical therapy sessions. Social Security does not award people who are unwilling to help themselves get better.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol, especially if you have a past history of abuse.
- Be sure to comply with all of the instructions and guidelines from Social Security, whether it things like sending forms back on time or attending a consultative exam.
- Always tell the truth.
- Have an experienced attorney at your side who can help you navigate this process.
This is not an exhaustive list. There is a host of ways to strengthen your claim and an experienced attorney would be able to explain all of the ways to do this.