Applying for Social Security Disability Involves Forms
The application process for Social Security Disability is ever changing, but it will always include filling out forms. After you file your initial application, your file is assigned to a state agency. In Oregon, claims go to the "Disability Determination Services” or "DDS." DDS assigns your application to a claims analyst to gather information, evaluate, and decide your claim. The analyst will send out forms, usually with a ten-day time limit.
This article focuses on the Disability Report-Adult form, but here are common sense tips to help you navigate through the process.
Keep Everything You Fill Out and Track Medical Care
You will be asked for the same information more than once. Keep a copy of every form you complete. It will save you time and trouble when the next form arrives in the mail.
Keep track of your medical care, and the providers you treat with. One simple trick is to take a card from your doctor’s office, and jot down the date of your visits, or you can keep your appointment reminder cards.
You must be straight forward and honest about your symptoms, and how they affect your ability to do every day activities. If someone overstates their symptoms, or understates their abilities, it usually sticks out like a sore thumb, and that can be fatal to your claim. This is because your Disability Report form is only one small part of the claims file. Social Security will have your medical records, statements from local Social Security offices regarding your appearance at in person appointments, and statements from friends or family members on your daily activities. Forms that overstate symptoms stick out like a sore thumb and will usually justify claim denial. This is because your credibility, even with all the rules and policies, is critical to proving your claim.
Let's take a look at two of the more common forms that you will fill out as you move through the process.
The "Disability Report-Adult" Form
There is a lot to this form.
Section 1-Your Contact Information
This section covers basic contact information and is self-explanatory. Update Social Security if you change your address.
Let’s take each section at a time.
Social Security is looking for somebody other than a doctor who knows about your medical conditions. This could be a friend or family member, or even a former coworker. Select somebody that knows about your condition, because Social Security will probably send your contact a form asking them for information about your limitations.
Section 3-Medical Conditions
Many of our clients have several medical conditions, but only some affect their ability to perform work activity. When completing the list of conditions, start with the most disabling, and rank the remaining conditions an order of severity. You may have other medical conditions that do not impact your ability to work.
Section 4-Work Activity
Section 4 begins by asking whether you have never worked, stopped working, or are working. If you are working, Social Security must determine whether you’re engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” Substantial gainful activity is work activity that results in income. Each year, Social Security sets out the minimum monthly income that constitutes substantial gainful activity.
Section 5-Education and Training
Social Security must determine what you can physically and mentally do in a work place when deciding whether you are disabled. Your education and training will determine what kinds of jobs you may still perform even with a significant disability.
Section 6-Job History
Social Security needs information about the skill and physical requirements of your past work. This is because Social Security will determine whether you can still go back to your prior work. In many of our cases, the description of prior work is a key issue. Be specific about the physical demands of your work. When asked about when you worked for an employer, give your best estimate. Any job you worked where Social Security withholdings were made will be included in your claims file.
Social Security will ask about the medications you are taking several times throughout the claim, especially if there are appeals. Part of evaluating your claim includes determining whether the medications you take help your condition and your ability to work. Social Security should also consider whether your medications cause side effects that impact your ability to perform certain kinds of work. For example, medications that city you may make a dangerous free to work around hazards or heavy machinery.
Section 8-Medical Treatment
Medical records are the heart of any Social Security claim. This is because you must prove you have a “medically determinable impairment.” A medically determinable impairment is a medical or psychological diagnosis based on objective findings. A medically determinable impairment is also a medical condition that impacts your ability to perform work activity in general. Pay attention to the questions regarding tests. Medical tests like blood, x-rays and MRIs all provide objective evidence of a medical problem.
Section 9-Other Medical Information
Social Security is looking for any other organizations or entities that may have your medical records. For example, you may have suffered an on-the-job injury and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. You may have been injured in an auto collision that cause serious injuries and made a claim against an insurance company. You also may have filed a private disability claim, and that claim file will include medical records.
If any organization or entity has medical records, complete this form. This is because often, these organizations will have several medical records, and this will move your claim along more quickly.
Section 10-Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment, or Other Support Services
Again, Social Security must determine whether you can perform any kind of work activity. If you sought special training or vocational assistance, include this information. Many of our clients have attempted vocational rehabilitation but failed to complete the program due to their disabling medical conditions. A failed attempt at vocational rehabilitation could help your case as it shows you have significant medical problems, but also confirms that you would have worked had you could. If you were provided the opportunity to train for another occupation and chose not to, it could harm your chances of getting benefits.
This section allows you to provide additional information not given in earlier parts of the form. We often see claimant’s pleading their case in this section, which is not harmful, but rarely helps the case. However, if there is any information you feel that Social Security should obtain and review, included in the section.
If you have questions about your Social Security Disability claim, check out other helpful articles on our website, or download are free electronic book. If you received a denial, contact us to discuss your options.