Applying for disability benefits can be overwhelming. Before you can qualify to draw monthly payments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to determine if you meet the criteria for disability benefits. According to the SSA’s disability checklist, a variety of evidence is used to evaluate and decide your disability benefit claim. This includes your medical records, work history, a questionnaire, a personal statement, and potentially additional evidence.
What Information Do I Need to Provide About My Medical History?
SSA will collect current medical records from your treatment provider that details your disability. Your medical records should establish that you suffer from a severe, permanent impairment.
You will also need to chronicle your complete medical treatment history. Include whether the impairment has gotten better or worse in any way and what medication, if any, you take to treat symptoms. If your prescribed medication causes debilitating side effects, you should report it.
Your doctor can help you by providing relevant medical evidence for your claim.
What Is the Personal Statement?
Your personal statement is essentially your account of the limitations you have concerning the disability that prevents you from working. It is essential that you provide an accurate date when your impairment began, as the SSA could use it as a retroactive date for awarding benefits.
In your personal statement, you will need to explain how your disability has prevented you from working at your most current job or at another position you have held previously.
What Is the Questionnaire?
You will also have to fill out an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) questionnaire. The SSA wants to know how your disability affects or impairs your ADL in addition to your earning ability. Examples of ADL are:
- Maintaining personal hygiene; and
- Completing household chores; and
- Driving, running errands, and shopping for necessities; and
- Preparing meals; and
- Sitting or standing for a significant duration.
It is important that you stick to facts. Resist any temptation to embellish or exaggerate on either the personal statement or the ADL questionnaire but you also do not want to minimize your problems. You do not want to compromise your claim.
What Does the SSA Need to Know About My Vocational History?
To qualify for disability under the SSA’s rules, you need to meet specific work history requirements. The SSA needs a variety of information to determine if you meet the vocational requirements, including:
- The date your condition began to affect your ability to work; and
- The type of work that you performed in the 15 years prior to your medical condition rendering you unable to work; and
- The dates of your prior employment; and
- The types of duties you had during your prior jobs.
Your educational history is also important. At a minimum, the SSA will consider your highest level of education completed—and the date of completion. If you received any special on-the-job training, received certifications, or completed any vocational school programs, the SSA will want to review these, too.
Do I Need to Provide Any Other Evidence With My Claim?
To resolve questions of fact or further investigate your claim, the SSA can request and review additional information beyond what you supplied with your application. This additional review could include a consultative exam (CE).
If the SSA Requests a CE
If the SSA needs additional medical data to make a decision on your claim, you might have to undergo a CE. This exam could include an independent physical examination, psychological testing, and intelligence testing.
The documentation from a CE is not a substitute for the initial application evidence described above. You must consult with your own doctor about your condition so that you can supply documentation separate from what the CE generates.
How Can I Get Help Applying for Disability?
You are allowed to have an attorney at all stages of the disability process. Involving a lawyer early in the process could be the difference-maker in your case. At Berger and Green, we can help you collect the information you need to prove your claim before we help you apply for benefits.
Call 412-661-1400 to learn more about your legal options with a free consultation.