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Understanding Social
Security’s Disability Forms

  One of the most frustrating parts about applying for Social Security disability has to do with the official Social Security forms you will encounter during the application and appeals process.

  Social Security’s forms are designed to help SSA employees process each case according to a decision-making system designed to manage hundreds of thousands of claims by thousands of SSA employees all over the country.

   Unfortunately, if you are in pain, unable to sit for more than a few minutes, or merely unable to concentrate for more than a few minutes because of pain, or because of depression, anxiety or some other medical or mental health condition, SSA’s forms may be a real obstacle for you.

   The task of completing Social Security’s forms is even more of an obstacle because SSA provides very limited instructions with its forms, and at no place on the official SSA web site does SSA explain exactly what it is looking for in a winning case.

  4SocialSecurityDisability.net recently spoke with attorney Jonathan Ginsberg, the publisher of the Disability Answer Guide, a “how to” resource that provides sample answers to every disability form published by the Social  Security Administration.   Attorney Ginsberg offers the following suggestions for disability claimants who are working on SSA’s forms:

  • fill out as much as you can, but get the form submitted on time.  The first two levels of appeal - initial application and reconsideration - do not involve a judge.  It is difficult to win your case at these first two levels of appeal and when you get to the judge, he will look at your case with fresh eyes.  Don’t get too hung up on completing every line.  A partially completed form submitted on time is better than missing an appeal deadline.
  • use a separate piece of paper if you can’t fit your response into the little boxes on the official forms.  SSA will put everything you submit into your file, even if it is not on the correct form.
  • make sure to list each and every medical or mental health problem you face on the forms. If you leave something out, a judge may refuse to consider that impairment when you get to a hearing
  • its okay to have a friend help you write or type out your answers to the questions on the forms.  Just make sure that you note someplace on the form that you were unable to complete them yourself and the reason why you needed your friend’s help.
  • remember that the main issue in your case is why you cannot work.   Try to include some work activity limitation in every answer to every question on the form
  • if you do not understand a question, put “I do not understand this question” in the answer space
  • make sure to keep a clean photocopy of any form or any other document you mail into Social Security.   SSA sometimes loses files and your copy may be what they need to “reconstruct” your file
  • remember that the SSA employee who is reviewing your file is also reviewing hundreds of other files You want to help your claims rep by filling out the forms as completely as you can and as neatly as you can.
  • if you miss a deadline, go ahead and submit your form anyway, along with a letter explaining why your form was late and requesting “good cause” exception to the filing deadline.  Reasons that might excuse a late filing can relate to your underlying problem like mental confusion, depression, problems physically writing or problems physically getting to a mailbox.

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