The Social Security Administration (SSA) has the difficult jobs of tracking Social Security payroll contributions, maintaining employee records and handling disability and retirement benefits claims.
The average worker who has made a lifetime of contributions to the SSA will make a claim against their accrued Social Security credits when they retire. However, for a small number of working adults, benefits will be necessary before they reach retirement age.
Significant medical issues can force someone to retire early or take a long-term leave of absence while they undergo treatment. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can help those who can’t currently work. Unfortunately, many applicants get rejected at first and need to appeal.
Appealing can be a lengthy process
Some people receive benefits after a technical reconsideration of their initial application. Others have to wait for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The wait time for such hearings will often be many months, if not longer than a year depending on the volume of claims.
While you wait for your hearing, you can make use of that time to gather evidence to strengthen your case.
Medical evidence is the SSDI gold standard
Ideally, you will have extensive medical records supporting your claim that you need benefits. Maybe you didn’t submit all of it with your initial application, or perhaps you have undergone more testing and treatment since then.
X-rays in other imaging test records can be helpful, as can documents from physicians or physical therapists explaining your functional limitations because of your condition. Documentation that shows you are unable to work at all will be necessary for most applicants to qualify for benefits.
Secondary evidence can also help
While medical evidence will have the strongest impact in an SSDI appeal hearing, there may be secondary evidence that will help strengthen your claim as well. Records from your place of employment could help, as could statements by family members or domestic professionals that now help support you because of the impact of your medical condition. The more help you need in daily life, the more likely you are to potentially qualify as someone with a truly disabling medical condition.
Trying to appeal for denied SSDI benefits can feel like an uphill battle, but with the right planning and support, an appeal can help you get the benefits you need.