After suffering a life-altering illness or injury, you might find yourself unable to work. Although it can be easy to think that you are destined to a life of poverty, you might be eligible for disability benefits if you have paid social security taxes throughout your previous years of employment. However, you might unintentionally destroy your ability to gain this benefit by making a few bad decisions. Here are two ways to damage your social security disability case, and what you can do to streamline the process:
1: Not Keeping Good Records
It is hard enough to keep track of paperwork and instructions when you are feeling well, let alone after you have endured an injury. Unfortunately, failure to keep good records can seriously damage your disability case, which is one of the reasons that an estimated 70% of initial disability cases are denied.
Records can help your social security disability lawyer to prove the timeline surrounding your accident. However, without these documents in place, you might have serious gaps in your medical history, which can hamper your ability to gain access to your benefits. Here are a few things you might need to hang onto if you plan to file a claim:
- Receipts: After your accident, keep all receipts regarding your medical care. Keep receipts for doctor appointment co-pays, insurance bills, and at-home medical equipment.
- Discharge Papers: If you are hospitalized, keep your discharge paperwork. These documents can be used to prove how you were told to care for your injuries, and to show that you followed doctor's orders.
- Written Statements from your Doctor: Letters from doctors can be incredibly helpful in regards to your disability case. If you are unable to work, ask your doctor to write a detailed description of how your physical impairment could hamper your ability to complete your normal day-to-day work activities.
- Journal Entries: Your emotional suffering will also be taken into account when your social worker reviews your disability claim. To paint a picture of your new life, consider creating a journal about your "new normal." Try to be as detailed as possible, including the nature of any existing injuries.
As you collect paperwork, try to keep things in chronological order. That way, you can give all of your documents to your disability lawyer in an easy-to-follow, organized format. Click to read more on this subject.
During recovery, it can be hard to transition from being busy with work everyday to focusing on your treatment. Some people struggle with depression, while other people find their days filled to the brim with physical therapy and daily recovery activities. Unfortunately, this difficult transition phase causes a lot of people to procrastinate filing for disability.
Although waiting a few months might not seem like a big deal, the fact of the matter is that months can turn into years, which could cause your case to be dismissed. The Federal Government sets strict statutes of limitations for disability filings, in order to preserve the details of the case. Over time, facts can be lost and witnesses can forget circumstantial evidence, which can make things hard to prove later.
Most of the time, you only have about 5 years from the time you stop working to file a claim. If your initial disability claim is denied, there are also time limits for how long you have to appeal. To fend off problems, talk with a qualified social security disability lawyer as soon as you can tell that you won't be able to return to work. Your attorney will work with you to gather evidence, file the correct paperwork, and help you to understand the process.
With the help of an attorney, you can come to grips with your newfound disability, while protecting your ability to gain access to your social security benefits.
Staying on top of your social security disability case and making smart decisions might help you to provide for your family and emotionally recover from your accident.