How We Help Our Claimants Tell Their Disability Story to SSA
How good are you at telling your story about how your disability impacts your life? This is what you must do when you apply for Social Security disability benefits. It doesn’t matter if you believe your medical condition qualifies you. What does matter is if SSA believes you.
Our job as trained disability advocates is to help our claimants tell their story to SSA. We ask you lots of questions and very often we must probe deeper into getting past a yes or no answer so that we can piece together how your disability affects daily living and the ability to work. Your story shouldn’t be understated or exaggerated, but it must be convincing.
We begin with an in depth interview. Through our questioning we find out everything we can to build a case around the five-step process SSA strictly follows to approve a disability case for benefits:
Are you working?
Do you have a severe medical condition?
Is your condition on SSA’s list of qualifying impairments?
Can you go back to doing your previous work?
Can you do a different type of work?
From the details we gather from you we piece together a compare-and-contrast story about how you functioned before your disability, and how you live now. We translate all this information into a series of forms and reports that we submit to SSA as the initial application package.
As we work to build a strong application, oftentimes we find that the claimant is not necessarily the best at describing their ability to manage daily tasks, and yet the functionality component of a disability case is critical.
Here’s an example. The Advocate asks the claimant if they can stand and cook a meal. The claimant may say yes because they are able to pop a pre-made meal into the microwave, push the button and wait for the meal to heat up. This is not the same effort as pulling out pots and pans from the kitchen cupboard, cutting up vegetables, peeling potatoes, frying chicken and actually cooking a meal. Our experienced disability advocates work with claimants to get deeper into how able they really are at performing daily activities, such as preparing a meal.
If you were the claimant in the above example and were applying on your own, you could unintentionally minimize your functionality and risk a denial of your case in spite of your medical diagnosis. Though there’s more to your story, if it’s not clear to SSA how your disability impacts your daily life, SSA may conclude that you can function well enough to work at a job. Denied.
The reality of the situation is that we are up against a very strict disability evaluation process. Nationally, SSA denies nearly 65 percent of applications submitted the first time because the SSA decision makers are largely held to the “letter of the law” of the disability step-by-step approval system and must be absolutely certain of your ability to work.
This is why at Freedom Disability we take great care in positioning your story in the very best possible light from day one. And even if your initial application should be denied, we encourage you to appeal so that we can continue to build upon your story until the case is won.