Social Security is the most significant retirement asset for many Americans. However, many people—including those who will be retiring soon—know little about how the program works and how to maximize the benefits they have earned.
While there are thousands of claiming rules and plenty of factors to consider, a great way to get the most from your benefits is to avoid making a mistake on your claim. Making one of the several common mistakes people often commit when claiming Social Security benefits could result in missing out on thousands of dollars.
The following are seven of the common mistakes people make when filing for Social Security benefits:
1. Talking to a legal advocate after filing your application or completing forms.
We provide free consultations and would be happy to answer questions before you apply for benefits or fill out any forms.
2. Not filing for all benefits you may qualify for.
In addition to SSD, you may qualify for SSI benefits, veterans' disability benefits, workers' compensation, or private insurance such as short-term or long-term disability.
3. Waiting too long to file your claim.
There is a time limit after you stop working to file for Social Security disability benefits and to show the date your disability began. Consider a parking meter: When you put quarters into a parking meter, you accrue a time limit for parking. When you walk away from the meter, your time ticks away until your meter expires.
Like this parking meter, when you work you earn quarters of coverage toward Social Security disability benefits. These quarters begin to “tick down” after you stop working. The last date that you are eligible for benefits is known as your “Date Last Insured.” You will need to show that you are disabled prior to this date and file your application in a timely manner to ensure you do not miss your chance.
4. Only include your most severe, current health condition when filing for disability benefits.
Social Security is required to consider all your medical impairments but only if you ask them to. It is common for people to forget to include mental health impairments or other chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, fibromyalgia, and others. One condition may not be disabling by itself, but in combination with others, you may be found disabled.
5. Not considering the effect “small talk” or “flippant remarks” have on your medical records.
When seeing health providers, they will often write down everything that is said. A simple response of “I’m OK” can be interpreted by someone who doesn’t know you to mean that you are having a good day with no current health issues. Be certain to let your doctor know your specific health complaints when you are having them including pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, or other issues. Don’t exaggerate your symptoms, but don't minimize them either.
6. Not appealing a denial of your application.
Approximately 70% of claimants are denied at the application stage. It is a good idea to file an appeal, which is a request for a hearing with an administrative law judge. While you are waiting for a hearing, you will be developing a record of your treatment, as well as evidence supporting your disability.
7. Not notifying Social Security of all your medical treatment providers.
When you file your application or appeal, it is important to ensure that your medical record is complete. Inform Social Security of your treating physicians, where you had labs, x-rays, or other radiology studies, any procedures, ER visits, or hospital stays, as well as upcoming appointments. Be sure to include any medications you take on a regular and as-needed basis.
Our Social Security Disability Lawyers are Here to Help
If you're thinking of applying for SS benefits, or if you've already applied and been denied, let our Pennsylvania Social Security disability attorneys at Metzger Wickersham help you from start to finish. We can guide you through the process and help you get all the benefits you are entitled to receive.
Call (888) 286-2850 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and confidential consultation.