Social Security Disability Cheat Sheet

Marken Law Group, PS, has helped hundreds obtain Social Security Disability Benefits and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) Benefits. We have also represented many military veterans pro-bono (free) to assist our nations brave men and women who have given so much. Below is a “cheat sheet” if you are representing yourself in a Social Security claim.

  1. Initial Application; for Title 2 you can file online. If you haven’t worked in some years you might need an additional in person or phone conference in order to effectively file a Title 16 claim for SSI.
  2. Make sure you include ALL your treating providers, emergency room visits, urgent care, primary care, mental health providers, imaging centers, EVERY facility you can think you got treatment from to ensure Social Security has an accurate record of your medical history.
  3. Get doctor’s statements. Letters are great if they are SPECIFIC, OBJECTIVE and speak about VOCATIONAL limitations. If they are generic, “John Doe cannot work,” this will NOT be good evidence.
  4. Get lay witness (family/spouse) statements but have them keep it brief and too the point. 1-2 pages is plenty. Make sure they are specific in what you cannot do anymore due to your disability.
  5. Once your application has been filed, if online, print a receipt for your records.
  6. Social Security might send you to a consultative examination, it is absolutely important you ATTEND. Failure to attend will likely result in a denial based on the missed appointment alone!
  7. Social Security WILL send you a function report and work history report. When you complete these documents, think in your head, every answer will be used against me. If you go into the forms with that mindset, you will complete the forms truthfully but also knowing Social Security is trying to trip you up on these forms. How? By admitting you do things or your work was not that physical!
  8. If DENIED, you have 60 DAYS from the DATE OF THE LETTER, to appeal. You MAY be able to appeal online. Ensure when you are denied, on page 1, they reviewed ALL your medical providers. If they missed ANY be sure to point this out in your APPEAL. Get DOCTORS, THERAPISTS, SPECIALISTS, to ADVOCATE for your disability.
  9. If you are DENIED AGAIN, appeal AGAIN! This will place you in a pool for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR ONLINE FILE AND MAKE SURE ALL YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED AT LEAST 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO YOUR HEARING.
  10. Social Security will send you notice of your hearing in the mail, at least 75 days PRIOR to your hearing date. You MUST attend. You must have your file COMPLETE. Hearings last typically from 30 minutes to 1 hour. The ALJ is going to focus their questions on what activities you do all day (think function report you completed many months prior) and your past work history.
  11. After your hearing, you will receive a written decision in the mail 1 month to 1 year later, depending on the ALJ and the backlog. If unfavorable or paritally favorable, you can appeal to the Appeals Council, within 60 DAYS!
  12. Appeals council typically takes between 12-18 months to issue a denial in most cases. You then have 60 days to file a complaint in Federal District Court to reverse the Social Security’s decision.
  13. Take a breath, you could be fighting for benefits for years!

At Marken Law Group, PS, we help people obtain Social Security Disability benefits from initial filings to the Federal District Court levels, and everywhere in between. We do not charge a fee unless you get the benefits you deserve.