As most people know, getting approved for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits is difficult. The requirements are tougher than State Disability, Workers Compensation, and many other disability plans. Over half of applicants are denied benefits initially, and many are so discouraged that they don’t take the next step and appeal the denial. That, of course, is a big mistake! However, what’s a person to do? Hiring an attorney to represent you is important, but there are things you can do before you hire an attorney that will help to convince Social Security that you are indeed disabled, and entitled to benefits.
Perhaps the most important step (after filing an appeal before the 60 day deadline is up) is to make sure that you follow up with your treating doctor. In order to convince Social Security of your disability you need medical proof. Your treating physician is in the best position to explain your condition. Even if your doctor says “I won’t fill out any forms”, it is still important to be sure that all of your medical findings are documented in your records. You must also be sure to tell your doctor about all of your problems. This is not the time to minimize your problems, even at the risk of feeling vulnerable or feeling like a “complainer”. If you have conditions which your regular doctor doesn’t treat, be sure to ask for a referral to a specialist who does.
But “what if I don’t have medical insurance,” you ask. No one said this is going to be easy. You must tap every resource available to get insurance, such as MediCal, Covered California, the County Health Department, teaching hospitals, such as UCI, USC, and UCLA. There are also some free County clinics in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, those clinics don’t have the resources to do thorough investigations of your health problems, so I would choose one of the University hospitals, even if it is less convenient. Remember, no one said this would be easy.
But what if the doctor says “there’s nothing else I can do for you”. Nevertheless, you should continue to see a medical professional on a regular basis to let Social Security know that this is a genuine problem for which you are seeking treatment and an answer. Perhaps you need to consult with another doctor who may be able to help.
Another issue that many applicants for disability benefits ignore, is your state of mind–your emotions. Being sick and disabled isn’t fun. Your world may be turned upside down because you can’t work. You may have money problems, relationship problems, negative feelings about yourself, even embarrassment. This may cause depression and anxiety. The worst thing you can do is ignore your symptoms. The most important thing you can do is get treatment by a Ph.D psychologist or M.D. psychiatrist. And I mean treatment, not just a one-time evaluation! Again, this may be difficult and costly. Nevertheless, there are ways to get such treatment even without insurance. Not easy, but I never said it would be!
Next, I will discuss other important steps you can take. See you next time!