Common Mistakes - Not Checking the Status of Your Disability Claim

We all know that Social Security Disability claims take a long time to process. That’s common knowledge. What many people don’t know, however, is that claims are often needlessly held up because of clerical or filing errors that keep them from reaching an adjudicator’s desk in the first place. Failing to periodically check on the status of your Social Security Disability claim can cost you time and benefit payments.

The Social Security Administration deals with millions of disability claims every year. Even if everything operated smoothly for all of these claims, the work load itself would cause claimants to have to wait several months before receiving a reply. When something is misfiled or simply ends up on the wrong desk, it can take months to get it sorted out and corrected. The best way to make sure that your claim has been handled properly is to periodically check on its status.

Another way that checking on the status of your Social Security Disability claim can be helpful is by helping you know if the SSA has everything it needs in order to make a disability determination. By being proactive, you can make sure that your doctors and other health professionals have delivered all requested forms in a timely manner and whether or not there is anything you have personally forgotten to turn in.

Don’t expect the representatives at the SSA to be overly forthcoming with information, however. You need to ask questions. They will commonly tell you that your claim is still pending. Ask them directly whether there is anything they still need from you or from your medical service providers before they can make their decision.

Most claimants would be wise to check on their claims about a month after filing them. You should also consider having a Social Security Disability lawyer help you with your claim because he or she will know better than anyone about what kinds of questions should be asked in your Social Security Disability case. In any case, ask for specifics. If you are told that the SSA is waiting for documentation, ask which doctors, labs, or hospitals have not yet turned in needed information.

If a representative of the SSA informs you that anything is still needed before they can make a determination on your claim, you should offer to help obtain the needed information. You can call your doctor or other health professionals, remind them about your situation, and ask them to submit the requested documentation as soon as they can.

If the SSA does not receive all of the documentation they need to make a decision in a reasonably timely manner, they will go ahead and make a decision without all of the documentation. More often than not, this results in a denial of benefits and leaves you facing the prospect of a long fight in the appeals process. Over two thirds of Social Security Disability claims are initially denied, and incomplete documentation is one of the most common reasons for these denials.

After initially checking on your claim about one month after you file for disability, you should continue to check about every month to ensure that the claim is proceeding in the correct manner. Not only does this keep you abreast of where your claim is in the process, but it also gives the disability examiner a bit of added motivation to get your claim processed. While most DEs are hard-working, they do have many cases to deal with. If your disability examiner knows that you are going to call again in a couple of weeks, he is more likely to make sure that he has done everything he can from his end to update your file.