How to Increase Social Security Disability Payments
The amount of your Social Security Disability benefit payment is determined by your average earnings during your working years. The program was designed to replace enough of your pre-disability earnings to help you survive an extended period of disability, whether due to illness or injury.
Because your benefits are set according to your earnings record, there are limited things an SSD recipient can do to increase their monthly benefit. But let’s look at the actions you can take to make sure you are getting the highest benefit possible according to your circumstances.
Get an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney
It may sound like too simple an answer to the question but getting an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer to prepare your claim for filing, and to argue for its approval is one of the most valuable steps you can take to maximize the chance of winning your highest possible benefit.
Preparing Your Claim
Filing for Social Security Disability can be a challenge for an impaired worker to do alone. Preparing the filing from the very beginning means collecting and organizing hundreds of records from treating doctors, therapists, and testing laboratories. Reading through the records to extract the strongest data to support a disability decision requires years of experience and a thorough understanding of precisely what the Social Security Administration wants to see in the package.
Double Checking Earnings
Importantly, a good Social Security Disability lawyer will check and double-check to make sure you get credit for every cent of the income you earned and paid Social Security taxes on over your working life.
Clarifying the Medical Records Supporting Your Claim
Beyond merely checking to ensure your records correctly reflect your earning history, an expert Social Security attorney improves your chance of winning a favorable decision by reviewing your medical records and searching for potentially powerful notes that your doctor failed to make clear. The doctor is concerned with your healthcare, not necessarily with your SSD benefits. But a doctor may write a note in vague terms without making crystal clear what they are saying about your diagnosis. The best Social Security Disability lawyer will contact the physician or therapist and ask that the note be clarified so the disability determination office will plainly understand the definitive conclusion about your disability.
Cooperating and Communicating with Your Disability Lawyer
Even if you have the most talented, experienced Social Security Disability lawyer handling your case, they can’t work entirely alone. They will need your help and cooperation to win your SSD case.
- Stay in touch with your SSD attorney — Some clients may need to move or change phone numbers while their claim is being processed. Then, when the time comes for a meeting or a hearing, the SSD attorney can’t reach them. Don’t disappear on your lawyer.
- Keep all medical and rehabilitation appointments — When you miss one or more doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions without notice or rescheduling, an SSD administrative law judge (ALJ) can view it as either a sign that you are disinterested in improving your condition or as an indication that your disability isn’t as bad as it is claimed. Of course, an occasional missed appointment with a prompt rescheduling is fine.
- Don’t be a hero — Some honest, hard-working people tend to be modest about how seriously they are injured or how impaired they are. “Oh, I’m fine.” Or, it’s not that bad” may almost slip off your tongue from habit, but resist anything similar to those statements during a hearing. You won’t get points for bravery. You need to communicate your pain, your limited range of motion, your inability to stand or sit for long periods, or whatever you’re impaired experience truly is.
- Follow your doctors’ advice — Engaging in the activity your doctor warned you against can worsen your condition and communicate an impression of recklessness or a lack of seriousness. Remember that Social Security Disability benefits are awarded only to workers who become totally disabled.
Trial Work Periods
Encouraging people who receive Social Security Disability benefits to try to resume work is now a priority with the federal government. Where possible, SSD recipients can attempt to return to work and still collect their full SSD benefit payment. These “trial work periods” allow you to earn an unlimited amount of income during the trial period and not jeopardize your benefits.
Trial work periods are considered to be any month in which an SSD recipient earns more than $940 by working. Within a five-year period, an SSD recipient can use 9 months as trial work periods. The months do not need to be consecutive; they can be spread out in any pattern. Get the best SSD attorney to win you the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve. Contact thenewjerseydisabilityattorney.com for a free consultation on your SSD claim today.