Living with a mental or physical disability is hard enough. Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “SSDI benefits” or “disability benefits”) and going through the SSDI process can, at times, feel just as difficult.
It is not that the application itself is difficult. Rather, getting all the necessary information together and filling out all the dates and information, plus interviewing and keeping track of deadlines can be time-consuming and confusing. And when your energy is limited, it can feel overwhelming. Which is just one reason why you should seek out the help of an experienced Florida disability lawyer if you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
There are some other things you should do if you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Top among these are asking yourself some questions to make sure that you really need to, and are ready to, put yourself through the complex, time-consuming, confusing and often frustrating process of applying for SSDI benefits.
For example, ask yourself:
Will Your Disability Last More Than 1 Year?
Not all disabilities last a lifetime or will shorten your lifespan. Disabilities can be severely disabling, yet short-term in duration.
Certain injuries —like back injuries—are common. Back injuries can be caused in any number of ways and can be short-term or long-term disabling conditions. Back injuries are listed impairments in the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) Blue Book.
The Blue Book contains lists of impairments that the SSA considers to be severe enough to potentially keep someone from working. The medical criteria the SSA uses to determine whether specific conditions are disabling enough to keep someone from working is also contained in the Blue Book.
If, for example, you have a back injury and you are thinking about applying for SSDI benefits, you must first be certain that your condition is expected to either end in your death, or last more than 1 year.
Because only disabling conditions that meet this criteria, will qualify for benefits.
When considering whether to apply for SSDI benefits, keep in mind that it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 months before you will even get a response from the SSA about your application. And, if you are like most first-time applicants, that response will be a denial of benefits.
It will take several months to go through the reconsideration process, and it can take a year or more to get a hearing date before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) if you appeal.
Plus, there is a 5-month waiting period before you can expect to receive your benefits if and when you are awarded disability benefits. So even in the best-case scenario, expect to wait 6 months after being awarded benefits before you see any money.
So, your first consideration if you are thinking about applying for SSDI benefits, is how long your disability is expected to last.
Did You Work Long Enough to Qualify for SSDI Benefits?
Another important question to ask yourself before applying for SSDI benefits is whether or not you are likely to qualify for benefits.
There are 2 parts to this.
The first one is the severity of your condition. In other words, does it meet the SSDI’s definition—not yours, and not your doctor’s—of disability.
And the second part is whether your work history allows you to qualify for benefits.
You must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security, and you must have paid into the system long enough to qualify for disability benefits.
You must have paid Social Security taxes and you must have earned at least 40 work credits to qualify.
If you cannot meet these requirements, it is not worth your time and effort to apply for SSDI benefits.
Assessing your medical condition and work history and whether it makes sense for you to apply for disability benefits is something our team can help you with.
Do You Have Enough Medical Evidence?
By no means the final question you should ask yourself, nevertheless this one is critical.
You must clearly evaluate whether or not you have sufficient medical proof of your condition before you fill out an SSDI application.
Because the SSA will not simply take your word for it. And no, having a note from your doctor saying you are “disabled” won’t cut it either.
The SSA makes its determinations based on medical evidence regarding a person’s condition and whether or not it interferes with his/her ability to engage in substantial gainful activity.
So, if you are thinking about applying for SSDI benefits, ask yourself first whether you have been treating long enough and consistently enough to have sufficient medical records from your treating physician and any specialists, so you can fully substantiate your condition.
Not sure if you should or should not apply for SSDI benefits in Florida? Don’t worry. Our disability attorneys can answer your questions.
Social Security Disability Attorneys in Orange Park, Florida
Our disability team of attorneys understands your needs and the Social Security Administration procedures and rules. If you are considering applying for SSDI disability benefits, contact us or call the firm at 777-JOHN. Our practice is dedicated to helping those who are disabled or injured. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we serve clients throughout Florida. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.