Dealing with a life-altering disability can be hard enough, by trying to pay your normal bills and caring for your family can be almost impossible. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 5 Americans struggle with some type of disability, which can make it hard to function day-to-day. To help people to cope, government programs like Social Security and Worker's Compensation offer disability benefits, but filing for these programs can be confusing and frustrating. Here are three tips for filing successful disability benefits claims so that you can get the help that you deserve:
1: File Claims Right Away
If you are like most people, you might be tempted to wait out painful injuries to see if they get better. Unfortunately, while you hobble around the office each day and struggle to take care of your daily routine, the clock might be ticking on your ability to collect disability benefits. As with many other lawsuits, there are statutes of limitations in place for filing disability claims. Here are a few examples of the time limits you might be bound by when you file for disability:
- Social Security Disability Claims: In most instances, people have five years from the date of the incident to file Social Security disability claims. However, the sooner you file, the easier it might be to access key evidence like photos and statements from co-workers.
- Worker's Compensation Disability Claims: If you were injured on the job, you might have significantly less time to report the problem. Worker's Compensation lawsuits typically carry a three-year statute of limitations, unless you suffered from a disease caused by an occupational hazard.
To stay on the safe side, meet with an attorney as soon as you realize you are injured. Your attorney can carefully evaluate your options and help you to complete paperwork. Your lawyer can also field phone calls from your employer, insurance company, and any litigators that might be working against you.
2: Don't Give Up
After you go through the process of gathering paperwork and filing your claim, you might be devastated to find out that your application for disability benefits has been denied. However, before you resign yourself to a lifetime of pain and suffering, you should take a good, hard look at the statistics. Believe it or not, around 70% of first-time applicants are denied benefits the first time around, which is why it is important not to give up.
If your application is rejected, work with your attorney to find out why. Ask your attorney to file an appeal after you resolve the issue. Don't plan on your case being a one-and-done type of claim. Instead, understand that earning disability benefits is a process that might take awhile. However, if you file right away instead of waiting, you won't have to worry about running out of time and surpassing your state's statute of limitations.
3: Follow Your Doctor's Orders
Last but not least, follow your doctor's orders to the letter of the law. If you do your own thing and ignore your physician's recommendations, you could complicate your case. In addition to taking medicine on schedule and attending physical therapy appointments, consider doing these things to prove that you are taking care of your injuries:
- Journal Your Progress: Buy an inexpensive journal and write down your day-to-day progress. For example, if you were injured at work, write down what it is like to walk, drive, and play with your kids every day. Make notes if your pain gets worse or seems to improve. This journal can be used to show that you take your progress seriously, and how the injury has impacted your life.
- Keep Paperwork: Don't throw away those therapy notes, prescription instructions, or discharge paperwork. Instead, make a file for all medical paperwork associated with your injuries. These documents can be used to show how doctors cared for your condition.
By doing the right things when you apply for disability benefits, you might be able to enjoy a new source of income so that you can focus on your recovery.