Georgia workers should avoid these mistakes when applying for Social Security disability benefits
If you’re disabled and can’t work, then you can get documents from your doctor to submit to the Social Security Administration (SSA) so that you can file for disability. Although this might sound like a straightforward process, things don’t always go according to plan—especially if you make a critical mistake while completing the paperwork or meeting with an interviewer.
One of the benefits of hiring a Georgia disability attorney when applying for Social Security benefits is that they can help you avoid the common pitfalls that applicants make and give you the best shot at success.
In the meantime, here are a few of the most common mistakes that you could make and ways that you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not having emergency funds while you await your claim payout
Many people think that the application will be approved in a few weeks or a few months. However, sometimes the process could take a year or longer, depending on if you need to appeal the first decision and how backed up the court is with other cases.
Since it could take some time to receive your first disability payments, you should try to set some money aside so that you can continue paying your bills and support your family.
Mistake #2: Not understanding the eligibility requirements
One of the requirements for receiving disability is that you’re unable to work due to an illness, injury or another medical condition. However, one mistake that people often make is thinking that this is the only requirement for receiving benefits. You also need to be able to show that you’ve worked in the past and that you’ve had deductions made from your wages that go to Social Security.
If you haven’t worked long enough or you haven’t worked at all, then you likely won’t be eligible for benefits.
Keep in mind that children who are disabled from birth or who have medical conditions that develop as a child are sometimes eligible because they are not of the legal age to work.
Mistake #3: Thinking that re-applying for benefits is a waste of time
After applying for disability the first time and being denied, you might think that you won’t be approved in the future. However, it would be a mistake to avoid applying for disability again. Details can change, and you can file an appeal later on.
If you have new information or documents that were left off of the first application, then you need to make sure they are included when you re-apply. Try to look at information online about how to complete the application so that it’s done correctly. You can also get assistance from the SSA office.
Mistake #4: Letting language barriers get in the way of your benefits
If you don’t speak English, it might be difficult to comprehend all of the details on the disability application. It could also be tricky to understand what’s being said at your hearing. If this is an issue, you should ask for an interpreter or ask for a native speaker to deliver the information about your case.
Applications are often available in languages other than English, so all you would need to do is ask for a different application that you can understand. There are also phone conferences available with representatives who speak various languages from around the world. You just need to request this type of conference beforehand so that the SSA office is prepared.
Mistake #5: Accepting that your benefits will stop
Sometimes, you might receive a letter that states that your benefits will stop. This could be because you have started working or because the SSA determines that you’re not disabled any longer. You might think that the agency is correct, which means that you won’t take the time to investigate the claim.
If you take the time to contact the SSA and find out why your payments will stop, then you might discover that the information that the agency has is wrong and that you’ll be able to continue receiving disability payments.
Keep in mind that you could be required to go to your doctor for a physical so that you can get proper documentation that you’re still disabled before the court makes a final decision.
Mistake #6: Failing to enlist help from an experienced attorney
The biggest mistake that you can make when filing for disability or when filing an appeal is not seeking legal assistance. Avoid this pitfall by finding an attorney near you who has experience in representing first-time Social Security disability applicants or individuals who need help filing an appeal.
Your attorney should be one who communicates with you throughout the process and who will answer any questions that you have. They should know how to complete the paperwork and how to approach the court the first time in order to increase your odds of success.
When you’re ready to complete an application for Social Security disability or appeal a denied claim, we invite you to contact our attorneys at Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson in South Georgia. Our office can assist in gathering the proper documents and ensuring that the application is completed correctly before your case is heard.