5 Common Mistakes seen from Maine Social Security Disability Applicants

The Social Security disability process involves a complex set of rules and regulations that are not commonly understood.  Here are some of the most commonly seen mistakes we see from those who have been denied Social Security Disability Benefits in the State of Maine.  Understanding these commonly held misconceptions can help you avoid the same result.

  1.  Applying for disability benefits is saying that you have been disabled or you are likely to be disabled from gainful employment for a year or longer.    Applying for benefits shortly after going out of work is the most commonly held misconception.  If you are looking to succeed with your application and avoid what can be a potential 2 year appeal process, applying for Social Security disability benefits shortly after going out of work is likely to result in a denial of your claim.  Certainly, there are exceptions to this rule.  However, if there is a chance of medical improvement, waiting to apply can be a wise decision.
  2. When applying for disability benefits, one is claiming they remain totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment.   Many times we encounter denied claimants who have been let go from work for what may be reasons related to their disabling condition or who may have been let go for reasons other than a medical condition and are choosing to collect an unemployment benefit check in the interim.  It is important to understand that by collecting unemployment benefits, one is asserting to the Department of Labor that they remain available for gainful employment: this assertion needs to be made on a weekly basis in order to continue to collect a weekly unemployment check.   Thus, ordinarily, two types of benefits would require you to make contradictory statements to two separate agencies.  This can come back to haunt you later on when you attend a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and they have a record of your unemployment earnings.  In very rare circumstances, pursuing both types of benefits can be appropriate.  Contacting an experienced Maine Social Security Lawyer who can go over your individual circumstances makes a great deal of sense should you find yourself considering an application for Social Security disability benefits while collecting an unemployment check.
  3.  We are many times contacted by individuals who are seeking to apply for disability benefits while continuing to work.  They have heard that Social Security’s rules require them to show that they need to be disabled from gainful employment and that this requires them to show they are earning less than what is $1130.00 in 2016.  In fact, the rules require that one show they remain totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment for a year or longer, and showing an ability to earn anywhere close to gainful wages can cause the Social Security Administration to draw the conclusion that one is purposefully earning less than gainful wages so as to qualify, or, in the alternative, could choose to work a few more hours per week.  The standard is not whether one is actually working gainful wages, but rather whether one is “capable” of earning such wages.
  4. Many individuals choose to undergo the disability process on their own as they are under the mistaken belief that they will need to pay a lawyer up front for their services.  Instead, attorneys work on a contingent basis, meaning they are only paid if and when they obtain benefits for you. Likewise, attorney’s fees are limited by Federal law to 25% of the past due benefits obtained for you and are further capped by Federal law at $6,000.00.
  5. One of the biggest mistakes we see our potential Maine clients make is that they fail to undertake the proper medical treatment.  It is important to understand that in order to prove a claim for Social Security disability benefits one needs to show that they remain disabled despite prescribed treatment from a “severe” medical impairment.  Too many times, claimants think by seeing their primary care physician that this is sufficient.   Rather, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will draw the conclusion that your condition must not be severe if in fact you are not in treatment with a specialist for your condition.  Thus, one of the most important rules to follow when applying for benefits is to remain in treatment with a specialist for any medical condition you believe is severe:  treatment should remain ongoing and zealous to show the Social Security Administration that you are doing everything possible to get better and return to work.

These are just a few of the most common mistakes we see our potential Maine Social Security disability clients undertake prior to contacting our office.  You should feel free to contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 to discuss how we might be able to assist you further with your potential claim.