Monday, March 10, 2008

Tips for Filling out a Social Security Disability Application

Applying for disability benefits from the social security administration can be a depressing prospect. And it can be nerve-wrenching. And it can be confusing. On this and other pages in this series, I'd like to mention a few tips for filling out a social security disability (or SSI) application that may be helpful to prospective applicants.

Here's the first tip. When you apply for disability and begin to complete your disability application and disability report form with your local social security office, you need to make sure that you indicate your dates of treatment. By this, I mean your dates of treatment with your primary treating physician, and any hospitals or clinics you've been seen at.

Why you want to indicate your dates of treatment on your SSD or SSI disability application? Obviously, you need to supply your sources of treatment because the disability examiner who will be assigned to work on your case (the social security office takes the claim, but it is forwarded to a state disability agency where it is actually processed and a disability determination is rendered) will need to request your medical records.

However, you need to suppy your dates of treatment because if you have not been to a doctor any time recently (within the last two months, from the perspective of the social security administration), the disability examiner may need to schedule you for a social security medical exam.

These exams, formally known as CE's, or consultative examinations, are for the purpose of gathering a "recent" medical snapshot. Typically, they provide very little information that is actually useful to the examiner for arriving at a decision on a disability case. However, nonetheless, they are usually required when a claimant has not been seen by a doctor recently.

Consultative exams are not difficult in any sense. A claimant is simply scheduled for one (these are conducted by independent physicians who do not work for the social security administration), goes to the appointment which often lasts just 10-20 minutes, and, after the examination is conducted, a report is generated by the examining doctor and is sent to the disability examiner who is handling the claimant's case.

Consultative exams, however, do add processing time to a disability case. This is because they A) have to be scheduled, B) have to be attended, C) the reports issued by the examining doctor usually take about 2 weeks (officially, doctors are given 10 business days in which to submit their CE reports), and D) the report has to be added to the medical evidence in the social security file.

Processing time on an SSD or SSI case, of course, is not something any claimant should want more of. Simply because more processing time means more time waiting for a claimant to be awarded disability benefits.

Therefore, if it turns out that a claimant needs to go to a CE, this needs to be discovered sooner rather than when the medical records eventually come in---as it can take weeks or months for a disability examiner to actually receive all the medical records that have been requested for a claimant.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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