When you pursue disability benefits, you will be asked to fill out numerous forms by Social Security. You will find that many of these forms are repetitive – they seem to ask for the same information over and over.
Having spent a good deal of time with SSA’s forms (I wrote a book about how to fill them out properly), my guess is that this redundancy arises from the overall dysfunction at the Social Security Administration. Someone, in some far away office somewhere in the country, was given the assignment of heading up a team to update SSA’s disability forms. Government agencies rarely simplify anything so this nameless bureaucrat and his/her comrades no doubt spent months changing the format and the fonts, and adding questions to the forms.
Since there are only so many ways to ask you for an explanation why you believe you are disabled, the new forms ask for the same information 5 or 6 different ways.
With a few exceptions discussed below, I am not convinced that anyone with any decision making power actually reads your responses to these forms but you have to fill them out. Continue reading →
One of the least discussed but perhaps most frustrating aspects of the Social Security disability process has to do with the forms that Social Security requires when you apply or appeal. Over the years I have watched the forms evolve – and the trend is easy to detect: Social Security’s forms never get shorter. Instead they add questions which appear to ask for the same information again and again.
In fact, the redundancy and complicated nature of these forms led me to write a “how to” book about filling out these forms (my book is called the Disability Answer Guide and you can read more about it at www.disabilityforms.com.
The idea for my book came from a client who pointed out to me that when a person is depressed, has a limited education, is in pain, or is unable to concentrate, it can be very difficult to compose answers to a bunch of government forms that come with no instructions and seem to ask the same questions over and over.
This lament led me to the idea of a how to book where I could offer sample answers to the questions on the forms as well as a reasoned explanation from my perspective as to what information was really relevant to a Social Security disability application and how to frame your answers to “speak SSA’s language.”
Not surprisingly I regularly receive questions about Social Security’s forms – here is an example of such a question from a person I’ll call “Neil:”
i dont know how to answer these medical question on the second part of socurity such as what your favorite hobbies, and what to do do from the time you get up and the time you go to bed
Here are my thoughts: First, I reproduced this question exactly as I received it. I did so not to embarrass the writer but to highlight some of the problems inherent to the Social Security decision making system. Continue reading →