If you have a disability that keeps you from working full-time or believe that your condition will keep you out of work for more than a year, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting too long to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates explain why it is important to act quickly when applying for disability benefits.
Your Most Recent Medical Records Can Help Expedite the Process
One of the major problems with waiting too long to apply for disability benefits is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the most current medical information available to make their determinations. If you are undergoing treatment with several doctors and specialists—especially if you are covered by private insurance—it is best to go ahead and apply for benefits while there is a wealth of recent and up-to-date medical documentation available for SSA employees to review in your application.
If you wait to apply for disability benefits, you may be running the risk of allowing your most pertinent medical information to become outdated. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the SSA will not accept your claim, but the delay may require you to undergo additional medical examinations in order to supply the SSA with more recent medical information.
It is always best for your own health care professionals—with whom you have a relationship and history—to provide the SSA with their medical opinions on your condition, rather than having medical examiners who are employed by the SSA give their recommendations based on a brief exam.
Maximize Your Potential Benefits
Once your doctor has determined that you may be unable to work for 12 months or more, you should begin the process to apply for Social Security Disability benefits immediately. If you are eligible, you can only recover retroactive benefits for the 12-month period prior to submitting your application. Therefore, if you wait more than a year from the date you stop working, you risk losing benefits with each month that passes.
Even if you aren’t positive that your disabling condition will be long-term, you should consider contacting the SSA and letting them know that you intend to file for disability benefits. Doing this establishes a protective filing date, which can be used as your filing date should you decide to apply for benefits later.
Anticipate the Length of the Social Security Process
While there is no exact time frame for a Social Security Disability claim to be approved or denied, you should file for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as you—and your doctor(s)—have reasonable cause to believe that your condition is expected to last twelve months or longer. The claim process can often take weeks or even months, depending on the circumstances, so it is vital to begin the process as soon as possible to ensure you are receiving the benefits due to you.
Retain an Experienced Disability Benefits Attorney
It is no secret that applying for Social Security Disability benefits comes with a unique set of challenges. If you have waited to apply, it would be helpful to consult an experienced attorney who will be able to help you face the obstacles you may encounter along the way. Contact us today for more information about how we can help!