Sometimes, people may put off applying for social security benefits because they are not sure if their injury or disability is really that detrimental to their health, or they may decide just to tough things out, because it's not that bad. However, it's a good idea to file a claim right when you notice that your disability is affecting your comfort and ability to provide for your own needs. The following information can help you know if you have a strong case for claiming benefits you may need to support yourself.
Why is it dangerous to wait and how do I know if I qualify?
Pushing yourself to the point of mental or physical exhaustion, or trying to stay on top of a job that you can no longer do very well, can actually hurt your case when you finally decide to file for social security benefits. The government carefully assesses each case because they do not want to hand over benefits to those who do not really need them. In order to make their assessment they check:
- Your physical abilities. Can you walk, run, sit, stand, bend, talk, see and hear? How much weight can you lift? How long can you stay in one position without pain? Can you remain on your feet all day? Usually, a doctor will be the person you will depend on to state that your physical abilities have decreased.
- Your work history. Prior to your disability, did you have solid history of employment? This is important because if you regularly took time off work, had difficulty holding a job, or frequently did not meet employer's expectations, the Social Security Administration may not take your current situation seriously.
- Your current work status. Were you unable to keep a job because of your injuries? For example, if you were a successful finishing carpenter and are now paralyzed from the waist down, you probably could not keep your position. At the same time, the government will also look at your ability to work overall. You may not be able to continue as a carpenter, but you could work as a receptionist. However, if you can't make a living wage, you still may receive a small stipend.
For these reasons, try to file a claim expeditiously. If you're good worker, your own current work may work against you. The claims board will see that you have been providing for yourself while injured and may dismiss your claim, even though you suffer on a daily basis.
What about mental health disabilities?
Disabilities like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating mental conditions can be harder to quantify. However, if you find that you are unable to focus at work, or must take extensive time off because of needed treatment, it's time to submit a claim to help supplement your income. In order to make a stronger case for these types of problems, be sure that you:
- Hire a lawyer. A disability attorney will be able to help you argue your case. When you don't have a visible disability, it can be difficult to convince others of your true level of suffering. Lawyers can help you to present tangible evidence of your struggles in order for your case to be viable.
- Document treatment and diagnoses. This mean that you should actually seek the help of a medical or psychological professional before filing your claim. They will be able to write statements that clarify the limitations of your condition, and help the board to see the specific problems you may have in the work force. Documenting your time will also prove that you are seeking, need to pay for, and need extra time to complete treatments.
Making the choice to apply for benefits can help you to get the support you need. Using the above guidelines, you can know if you actually qualify for benefits and what you need to do in order to get them. For more information, contact a local social security attorney.