5 Ways to Improve Your Social Security Disability Claim

April 4, 2023

It’s hard to get approved for Social Security Disability benefits. An overwhelming number of people get denied, at least on the first try.

If you want to improve your chances of winning Social Security Disability, here are five of the top pieces of advice from the highly experienced Chicago disability lawyers at Nash Disability Law.

No 1: Respond to All Social Security Administration (SSA) Requests in a Timely Manner

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you apply for Social Security disability benefits. Once your application is filed, there’s an endless stream of paperwork with intrusive and repetitive questions.

Nevertheless, you must complete all paperwork Social Security sends you even if the disability application forms seem complicated and burdensome and ask for information you’ve already provided.

If you do not respond to calls or letters, your claim may be denied for failure to cooperate.

If your initial application or reconsideration is denied, file an appeal promptly. You have a maximum of 60 days and if you miss the deadline your claim may be denied.

Also, you must cooperate with Social Security if they request that you see one of their doctors. If you refuse or miss appointments, Social Security can use this as a reason to deny your claim.

As your disability benefits attorneys, we can help with any paperwork you receive from Social Security and provide advice on how to best complete it.

No. 2: See a Doctor to Have Your Condition Assessed and Documented for Your Disability Claim

To be awarded disability benefits you must prove that you cannot sustain full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis due to one or more physical or mental conditions.

The condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or eventually end in death. You can file for disability before you’ve had a qualifying impairment for 12 months, but you must be able to prove that the disability will last at least that long.

It is not enough just to say you have a disability. You will have to prove your medical condition and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will require detailed reports from your doctor. Social Security relies on medical information from doctors, clinics and hospitals to determine how severe a physical or mental condition is. No matter how much you think you cannot work, the SSA will not pay benefits without precise medical documentation.

Keep a log of your medical information regarding any appointments with your doctor, counselors and hospitals. Write down the names of the health care providers you see and the dates. This log will help your disability attorney obtain copies of all your medical records for your case. Keep copies of any medical records provided to you.

We are often asked if a one-time doctor’s visit is enough. In general, it is not. The goal is to prove not that you have a particular diagnosis, but that your symptoms and limitations persist on an ongoing basis in spite of treatment.

This is why a paper trail of medical evidence is so important in a Social Security Disability case. Seeing specialists for your conditions can also be a big help to your case.

No. 3: Follow All Prescribed Treatments to Qualify for Disability Benefits

This is a critically important piece of advice and the one most often ignored.

It is essential to completely follow the treatment plan set by your doctor, including taking all prescribed medications.

When the SSA claims examiners are reviewing your claim for disability benefits, they will be looking at what treatment you have undergone and how you responded to those prescribed treatments.

If you have not cooperated with the treatments that have been prescribed by your doctor, it can torpedo your claim for disability benefits.

No. 4: Tell Your Disability Attorney About Any Changes in Your Health, Work, or Living Arrangements

A common misconception is that as your attorneys, we are automatically provided with updates about your situation.

The only way we receive these updates if you tell us. If you have a change in medical providers or new treatment or tests, please let us know so we can update your file and assure that the SSA receives your records.

Similarly, please tell us if you start working again even if you are only working part time or in the “gig” economy. This can have an impact on your case. Oftentimes you may still be eligible for benefits.

Notify us about any change in address or phone number. We will send a change of address notice to the Social Security office.

You can email your updated information to update@tomnashlaw.com, or securely upload documents to us by clicking here.

No. 5: Don’t Face the Social Security Disability System by Yourself

The best way to improve your chances of winning Social Security Disability benefits is to be represented by a skilled disability lawyer.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office study revealed that if a claimant had a representative such as an attorney when they went to a hearing with a disability judge, they were almost three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone who had no representation at all.

We present your case to the Social Security Administration in a way that gives you the very best chance to succeed. We prepare you in advance of your hearing, and we know how to cross-examine expert witnesses who may challenge your case.

Our training and experience gives us the knowledge to prepare your case and maximize your chances for success.

Nash’s Social Security Disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. When you hire us we don’t get paid unless you get paid.

At Nash Disability Law, we also will give you a free evaluation of your disability case.

The evaluation can be done over the phone or in person at one of our three convenient office locations around Chicagoland.

Contact us today  to discuss your situation or schedule an appointment to meet one of our experienced disability lawyers.