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Does Social Security always deny disability claimants the first time they submit a claim?



We regularly hear, I think, whether it’s from clients or anyone who is filing for social security disability claims that social security never approves anybody the first time. Is there any choice to that or what is your understanding from your years of experience of whether or not they actually do approve people?

That’s a very interesting question because there are many meritorious claims that get denied in the initial level. There are many meritorious claims that get denied a second time in the reconsideration level and there are also many meritorious claims that get denied in the hearing level. In my experience, a good number of claims do get denied and ultimately the individuals receive benefits at a hearing level but there are individuals who are accepted at the initial and reconsideration levels

There are 2 opinions so far. Add your comment below.

Starr Ward:

I was so sure my SSDI claim would be denied on the 1st application – but it was approved immediately!

What I did that I believe was helpful:

1) My initial disability claim was through my primary doctor, but I had seen several specialists in the 2-3 years before I became totally disabled and their reports and tests they ordered supported the severity of my diagnoses. The most recent one was within 3 months of my claim.

2) Before I filed, I made a list of every doctor visit, lab test, other tests (X-Ray, MRI etc.), and surgery – what they were for, who ordered them, and what the outcome/findings were. I put the list in order by dates, and had every doctor’s full name, address, phone and FAX numbers.

3) I made a list of every physical problem I have, and wrote down when it started and how it affected my being able to do, or not do, everyday activities as well as work activities.

4) I also made a list of all of my previous employers, with names, addresses, phone and FAX numbers, dates I worked, and what kind of work I did, especially including physical requirements of the day-to-day work.

5) I made a list of the relatives and friends who could verify my history and physical condition, with names, addresses, and phone numbers (ones who were willing, and reasonably good at talking to people).

6) I wrote down all of my physical problems AND all of the things I have trouble doing physically as well as subjective problems like pain, and took it with me to my primary doctor, and asked her to go over it with me before she filled out my claim form, so I could be sure nothing got left out.

7) I filled out the form on-line, but requested my interview in person (the claim form was not too tough, because I had already organized everything!). I printed a copy for myself for my records.

8) When I went to my interview, I took all the stuff they requested (SS card, drivers’ license, etc.) AND all of my medical records so the interviewer could make a copy. The interviewer was so thrilled!!! He said it made it really easy for them to review, and it all went through in just 2 1/2 months! Just in time for the 5 month waiting period to be over so I could get my 1st check! I was stunned and amazed, but really happy!

The interviewer told me he hardly ever had anybody apply that had everything already done and organized, and I think it made a huge difference, especially having ALL of the medical stuff so they didn’t have to try and get ahold of doctors’ offices and records for the review, which can apparently be unbelievably time-consuming. So it also meant that my case could all be reviewed by 1 medical examiner, which probably helped, too.

It took a lot of time and energy to put all that stuff together, especially getting all of the medical records, test copies, X-Rays, etc., plus putting it in order, but if you could have seen how happy the interviewer was like I did, you can see that it makes a difference if you make it easier for them – I guess they’re only human too.

One other thing: the medical examiners want the doctor reports and results to give them an idea of how limited you are physically in your daily activities like sitting, standing, walking, bending, eating, etc., – and verify your claim (which most doctor reports don’t, really – they talk about your diagnosis, but not always exactly how it affects you) – so if you can call, write, or see your doctor(s) to “remind” them that you want that info included in any reports they make to SS, it will really help. For example, after 8 months, does your orthopedic surgeon even KNOW how tired it makes you to try to walk a block? Maybe he knows you can DO it, but he needs to know (and include in his report) that you CAN’T do it comfortably, i.e. normally.

So go see him, (or write, or call) and tell him you’re filing for SS and you’d like him to be aware of it. My primary doctor had forgotten several things, because I’d seen a specialist about them, not her – she had their reports in my chart, but it had been over a year, and she wouldn’t have remembered except that I went to see her with my list.

And I’m sure the SS medical claim examiner would figure that if your primary doctor didn’t mention it up front, it probably isn’t very significant… right? Plus, my insurance company approved my long-term disability as well, after I sent them the SS approval letter (NOT that that’s a guarantee, but it helps).

So, that’s my experience – hope it helps somebody else.

Good luck!

Attorney Greg Dell:

Starr,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am really happy that you were approved the first time. Your tips are great and I am sure that people will improve their chances of receiving social security disability benefits by following your suggestions.

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