Are you seeking St. Petersburg or Tampa disability benefits? Get help from an experienced Florida disability attorney.
My Florida disability benefits website has answers to your questions … answers that I have learned from 30 years as a Florida disability attorney helping Tampa disability claimants, St. Petersburg Social Security claimants, and other Florida disability claimants.
Whether you are applying for Florida disability benefits, appealing a denial, preparing for your Florida disability hearing, or looking for a Florida disability attorney to help with your St. Petersburg or Tampa disability claim, my website should help you.
For general legal issues in the Houston, Texas area, I recommend attorney Mark T. Phelps. Click here for his website.
9 tips for applying for St. Petersburg Social Security disability or Tampa disability benefits, from a Florida disability attorney
1. Likelihood of success. If your (a) physical or mental disability is severe, (b) condition limits your activities of daily living, (c) medical impairment will last or has lasted longer than 12 months, and (d) doctor agrees with this assessment, you should apply for Florida disability benefits.
2. Irrelevant evaluation factors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a strict definition of disability that ignores many real-life aspects important to St. Petersburg and Tampa disability claimants. Difficulty finding a job, thinking that no one will hire you with your condition, believing you could not pass a job-required physical, or even knowing that the pay you would receive for the work you can do is too little to live on in St. Petersburg or Florida in general … all of these important real-world considerations do not matter to the Social Security Administration when evaluating your claim for benefits.
PROOF FROM DOCTORS
3. Medical evidence. As is the case with most Florida legal claims, what counts in Florida disability evaluations is what you can prove. If no medical records exist to support your claim of disability, you are unlikely to be successful. The Social Security Administration figures that if your medical condition is severe enough to keep you from working, then it should justify doctor visits, tests, diagnosis, and treatment.
4. Failure to follow treatment. The Social Security Administration expects you to try to get better. That means doing what your doctor prescribes. If you do not believe that your doctor’s recommended treatment will help, then be sure your doctor documents the treatment’s odds of success or failure.
5. Keep good records. Conversely, if you do follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment, document your efforts. Without records, you are unlikely to remember the date of every doctor visit, lab test, medicine taken, and therapy received. Obtain the business cards of every doctor you see and file them. Save your pill bottles. Keep notes of your pain and other medical events.
EVIDENCE FROM YOU
6. Symptoms vs. diagnosis. The Social Security Administration does not expect you to be an expert on medical conditions. Even if you are, the Social Security Administration would rather learn about your impairment from your doctor and your medical records. What the Social Security Administration wants to receive from you are details about your symptoms. For example, how severe is your pain? Is it constant or intermittent? What aggravates your pain? What reduces it? Do you suffer from shortness of breath or fatigue? No one knows your symptoms better than you. Do your best to explain them in detail without exaggerating or minimizing. Do not omit or gloss over any lesser conditions just because you have one severe condition and several minor ones.
7. Physical restrictions. What can’t you do? Sit for lengthy periods? Stand and walk? Lift and carry? Bend, twist, kneel, and stoop? Manipulate objects with your hands? Social Security disability is a functional program. The Social Security Administration will focus on your limitations rather than your diagnosis.
8. Effect of symptoms and restrictions. How does your medical condition affect your daily activities? Tell the Social Security Administration about the impact on your personal care (hygiene, dressing, bathing), errands and housework (driving, shopping, cleaning), and social functioning (hobbies, sports, interaction with friends and family).
9. Consistency, accuracy, and honesty. Contradictions, errors, memory lapses, and discrepancies all work to erode your credibility, and nothing will sink your claim for Florida disability benefits faster than questions about your truthfulness.
If you have already applied for St. Petersburg or Tampa disability benefits and have been denied, here is advice for appealing.
Personal assistance from a Florida disability attorney
If the Social Security disability process becomes overwhelming or frustrating at any point, I encourage you to contact a Florida disability attorney before giving up. Over half of claimants who obtain a hearing are awarded benefits, so the odds are in your favor if you do not abandon your claim.
But you must appeal through the hearing level before the odds tilt your way. National approval rates at the application level are 35% and at the reconsideration level are only 15%. It is at the hearing level that the approval rates rises to 55%. These percentages are similar for St. Petersburg, Tampa, and all over Florida.
Whatever level in the process you are at, if you contact my St. Petersburg Social Security office, you will receive my personal assistance. Your case will not be passed off to a less-experienced attorney. I will be the Florida disability attorney who evaluates your claim, prepares you for the hearing, and represents you at the hearing.
When you bring your claim to my office, you receive the full benefit of my 30 years of experience as a Florida disability attorney helping St. Petersburg and Tampa disability claimants.
I hope you find the guidance on my website helpful. If I can help further, please call or
e-mail my office.