Although SSDI offers critical benefits, there is no guarantee that your application will be successful. However, you can take certain steps that will improve your understanding of the process and may improve your chances of success. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Anticipate the Need
If you have a chronic condition or disease, anticipate that you will need to apply for disability benefits at some time in the future. There is a good chance that you will never need to apply, but it is better to be safe than sorry. If possible, keep any private disability insurance you have, because you may not be able to purchase it again due to your diagnoses. Check to see if you are eligible for SSDI. If not, identify what steps, such as accepting part-time employment, may make you eligible.
2. Understand the Benefits
Understand the details of the specific benefits that you may be entitled to if you become disabled. Every year the SSA sends out a statement describing these. Your dependents may be able to qualify to receive benefits if you become disabled.
3. Take an Active Role with your Medical Record
Ask your health care provider to record any work-related difficulties in your medical record even while you are thriving in your work role. Your application will be stronger if there is a long pattern (longitudinal history) of symptoms rather than a sudden emergence immediately prior to your application. This is especially important if your primary symptoms are fatigue or cognitive dysfunction, which are not as likely to be well-documented in your medical record.
4. Anticipate a Gap
Anticipate a gap in your medical coverage if you are awarded SSDI benefits. You are not entitled to insurance through Medicare for two years after receiving SSDI payments. For those with a working spouse who has employer-provided medical insurance, this may not be a big problem. For others, this gap in coverage may create significant problems.
5. Consult your Medical Provider
Talk with your health care provider before applying for SSDI. Review whether your symptoms are reflected in your medical record. Anticipate that you may need to be referred for additional testing, such as neuropsychological testing or speech-language testing (if you have cognitive problems) or occupational therapy (if you have fatigue problems). Remember, your neurologist’s record is likely to be critical in determining whether you are disabled.
6. Detail all Symptoms
When describing your symptoms to Social Security, provide as much detail as possible and do not merely describe your abilities on your best days. Include the difficult days and any other factors that may make work impossible.
7. Seek Legal Assistance
If your initial claim is denied, consider hiring an attorney to help advocate for you. In this context, attorneys usually receive a percentage of the amount received if you are ultimately successful.