Parkinson's And Disability Benefits: Understanding The Application Process And What To Expect

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Parkinson's And Disability Benefits: Understanding The Application Process And What To Expect

29 September 2015
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Holding down steady work can be virtually impossible when you have Parkinson's, but that doesn't mean you have to accept a life of difficulty and poverty. If your condition is severe enough to keep you from working, you can apply for social security benefits to keep yourself afloat. The process can be long and confusing at times, but it's more than worth completing.

Gathering Evidence Of Your Condition

Before you can consider applying for disability benefits, you'll need to collect hard evidence that your condition is genuine and that it impedes your ability to work. Most doctors have experience helping patients apply for assistance, so your doctor should be able to put together all of the relevant information in your medical file for you. Make sure that the doctor supplies you with these documents:

  • Written confirmation of a medical diagnosis of Parkinson's.
  • Copies of neuroimaging scans that clearly show evidence of the condition in your brain.
  • A signed statement detailing your specific symptoms and their severity as observed by your doctor.

You'll also need to formulate your own written statement about how Parkinson's affects your daily life, including your symptoms and difficulties you've faced in the past when trying to work. Be as clear and detailed as possible, so as not to downplay the seriousness of your condition.

Formally Filing Your Application

Before you start filling out forms, it's a good idea to retain a disability lawyer to help walk you through the application process. Having an expert can help you avoid mistakes during filing, which might delay your application by months. It's advantageous to have a lawyer to help you with appeals if you are denied benefits, too, and this is a real possibility since most applicants are denied at least once.

Most disability lawyers work on a contingency fee based on your back payments owed, so you won't have to pay anything extra for this service. The amount you can be charged is also capped depending on the amount of your back payments. You will still have to pay the normal filing fees and medical transcript fees, but these normally don't exceed $200.

What To Expect From The Review Board

When your application is received, it may not be reviewed right away. Instead, it goes into a queue for the board to review, so you'll have to wait for older applications to be processed before yours can be examined. 

Once your application comes up, it will be looked at by a medical expert and a legal adjudicator for the Social Security Administration. Your doctor will likely be contacted for interviews and further files detailing your condition, even if you included exhaustive paperwork in your initial filing. This confirms that nothing fraudulent has been included and allows the administrators to get a fuller picture of your condition.

You'll also be contacted by the administration for further information. This may take the form of a simple questionnaire about your condition, or it may be as extensive as a medical examination by an SSA-approved doctor. Once the administrators are finished gathering additional information, your case will go back into private consideration.

All in all, the typical time from application to denial or approval of benefits is four to five months, but it can take longer if mistakes or complications delay the process. Ensuring that the review board is supplied with accurate contact information and complying with requests for more information quickly will both help to speed up the approval wait.

Applying for benefits can be daunting, but you deserve assistance if your Parkinson's is keeping you from working regularly. With help from a legal expert, you can quickly get your file in front of a review board and bring yourself much closer to a steady income.

Click here for more info, or contact a social security disability attorney in your area.