Applying for Disability Benefits? Here are 5 Things You Need to Do
If something has happened in your life – an injury or sickness – that is preventing you from working, you may be thinking about applying for Short or Long Term Disability or Social Security Disability. Here are 5 things you need to do before you apply for disability benefits:
- Go to the doctor. If you do not see your doctors and tell them about your symptoms and why they are impacting your work, you likely will lose any type of disability claim. Your doctors will need to fill out forms for the disability insurance company and possibly for Social Security, so help them help you. If possible, visit the doctors several times before you stop working to use thier office notes to document how your physical or mental limitations are getting worse.
- Stop working. This may seem obvious, but you cannot work and be disabled. You will not be able to work until your disability check starts. To prove you are disabled, you typically have to stop working. Period.
- Put together a list of all of your doctors, their names, addresses, phone and fax numbers. Every disability insurance company will ask for this. Social Security will ask for this. If you do not have a list like this when you go to apply, it will just slow you down. Put together a list in your computer or gather all of their business cards to have the information handy when you go to fill out paper forms or online applications.
- Talk with your family and friends about your disability and how it is impacting your abilities.
More and more, Long Term Disability insurance companies and Social Security are asking disability claimants to identify people they know that can describe their disabilities. If you can provide a list of many people for the disability adjuster or claim adjudicator to contact who all can relate examples of things they have seen you do and heard you say, it can help your disability claim immensely.
- Keep a journal to document examples of how your disability is impacting your life. I am not talking a detailed diary, unless that his what you want to do. I am recommending that you make some notes each day about the problems you had. Not just problems at work. Document examples of little things in your life too. The more you can show that you cannot even perform simple one and two step tasks, the easier it is for you to show that you cannot do the more complex things you have to do at work. A journal will also help you remember what you were doing on a day that an insurance company says they caught you on surveillance video doing something they think disqualifies you for disability. Your notes can help jog your memory. For example, you may have gone out to the mall during the holidays with friends for a couple of hours, but when you got home, you had to lay down for the rest of the day because your symptoms flared up. A private investigator may have gotten the entire two hour trip on video, but they could not see inside your house. Do not depend on your memory to recall examples of how you are disabled…particularly if your memory is a part of your disability because of your symptoms or medication side effects. Do this every day.
Applying for disability is very stressful. You should be prepared for a period of time when you do not have income coming in. Depending on the type of claim you are filing that could last from weeks to months, or even years in some cases. Doing the five things listed above will help you prepare for the application process and relieve some of the stress that comes along with applying for disability benefits.
John Tucker leads a team of experienced disability attorneys handling all types of disability claims. To discuss your claim with a knowledgeable attorney, call (866) 282-5260 from anywhere in the U.S.