The Social Security Disability Application Process

Kathleen Devereaux discusses the disability application process and her experience with it:

In my work on behalf of families in Buffalo, I have met many disabled individuals who are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability.  Mothers and fathers become unable to help provide for their families.  If you are injured or are suffering from a debilitating illness, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  In talking with families throughout Western New York, much to my surprise, I have found that many people choose to pursue benefits without the assistance of a Social Security Disability lawyer. However, I always recommend meeting with an attorney to discuss the finer points of the application process and the procedures involved with appealing your claim if denied.  Meeting with an attorney is important because you want to present your strongest case for disability.  If you are in Western New York and are considering applying for benefits, Chris and I would be happy to speak with you about how to apply for disability.

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Ways to apply for benefits

There are three convenient ways to apply for disability benefits. The first, and most convenient, is to apply online. As your lawyer, I will personally review or help you to complete all necessary forms, and we will file your application electronically for you.  I always tell disability applicants that this service can shorten the wait for a decision.

As an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, I know that not everyone is comfortable transmitting sensitive information over the internet.  If you are not comfortable with applying online, you can appear at your local SSA field office to fill out a paper application.   In Buffalo, the Social Security Office is located at 3131 Sheridan Drive in Amherst.  Finally, if you are unable to drive to the Buffalo Social Security Office because of the severity of your impairments, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone.

Regardless of how you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, Chris and I would like to help you complete all the paperwork necessary for a successful application.  When you apply for disability benefits, you will complete numerous forms.  Contradictions, errors, memory lapses, and discrepancies all work to erode your credibility, and nothing will sink your claim faster than questions about your truthfulness.  It makes me very upset to see disability applications denied for preventable mistakes.  As your Social Security Disability lawyer, I can help you manage your way through the confusing maze of forms and questions.

Understanding how to prove disability

As your Social Security Disability attorney, I know your statements are a pivotal component to your application and insufficient or contradictory statements could result in a denial.  I know this is hard because you may not be a medical professional, or have knowledge about complex medical terminology.  The good news is SSA does not expect you to be an expert on medical conditions.

Even if you are an expert, I always advise clients that what the Social Security Administration wants to receive from you are details about your symptoms. For example, how severe is your pain? Is it constant or intermittent? What aggravates your pain? What reduces it? Do you suffer from shortness of breath or fatigue? No one knows your symptoms better than you.  While I know this may be hard because of fear or embarrassment, I always advise my clients to do their best to explain their symptoms in detail without exaggerating or minimizing.

I know your story is unique, and I want the Social Security Administration to understand how your disability affects you and your family.  How does your medical condition affect your daily activities in your household? Tell the SSA about the impact on your personal care, such as your ability to care for yourself, perform errands and housework necessary for your family’s survival, and your social functioning.

But I also want you to convey your story in a way that will help the Social Security Administration understand why you cannot work.  What can’t you do? Sit for lengthy periods? Stand and walk? Lift and carry? Bend, twist, kneel, and stoop? Manipulate objects with your hands? Social Security disability is a functional program, and the Social Security Administration needs to understand how your impairments limit your functional abilities.

Developing the best possible case for your disability claim requires careful attention to detail, and as your Social Security Disability lawyer, I will provide you with the guidance necessary to put your strongest case forward.

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