September 13, 2019

Five Tips for Navigating Social Security

by Elizabeth C. Leffel, Leffel Law, LLC

Navigating the social security system can be daunting for advocates and claimants alike. Here are a few points to remember:

1. Make sure you know if applications for SSDI and SSI can both be submitted. Get them done at the same time instead of filing for one or the other at a later date; that could cost in backpay.

2. Complete the forms in full. Don’t leave anything out. Especially on the Disability Report form, which asks for a list of impairments, symptoms, doctors names and addresses, dates of treatment and medications, including dates prescribed and by which doctor. Review and list all work history for the past 15 years, even if it only lasted a short time.

3. Medical records obtained from treating sources should be submitted with the application. Follow up with Social Security to make sure they have all the materials and are keeping you informed. Monitor the progress of the claim, set another follow-up calendar date and don’t wait for Social Security to contact you.

4. Have the treating doctor fill out a form or give their opinion in a letter or office note as to what the disabled individual can or cannot do from a mental or physical standpoint. This is the gold standard; it is sometimes valued as the best of the best.

5. Have patience; most of these claims take an inordinately long time. If denied at any stage of the process, don’t give up and don’t wait to appeal. File the appeal or request for hearing immediately.