6 Things That Social Security Disability Doesn’t Want You To Know About Proving You’re Disabled
Many people try to handle their Social Security disability claims on their own and are surprised when the Social Security Administration says their claim doesn’t meet the necessary standards. Here is an important list of 6 secrets Social Security doesn’t want you to know about proving your disability claim:
1. DON’T Assume that your Social Security Disability file is current
When you file your claim with the Social Security Administration, you will sign a “release” that gives Social Security the ability to request your medical records. But, even though you sign this release, you shouldn’t assume that Social Security will get all of the information you’ll need to prove your disability case. Many times, if doctors don’t respond to requests for records right away, Social Security claims examiners will make a decision on the case even without having all the records. Sometimes, your medical records won’t be enough to win your disability claim, and you’ll need to have a medical opinion letter or other types of medical evidence.
You can’t count on the Social Security claims examiner to put enough effort into your case to guarantee that your claim file is complete. If records appear to be missing, many times the claims examiner will request that you see a doctor for a “consultation” and then review the entire file to make a decision. The doctors that perform the consultation are paid by the Social Security Administration and often issue an opinion that the patient is not disabled.
Social Security can take a long time (sometimes 6 months or more) to make a decision on an application for benefits. Then, if your claim is denied, it can take a year or longer before you get a hearing. A lot can change during this time. You will probably have additional medical appointments and your conditions may get worse. You might even develop new conditions and possibly new medical providers. You can’t trust that the Social Security claims examiner will take the time to make sure that your file is updated with all of your new information and complete.
IMPORTANT: If you are handling your Social Security claim yourself, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that Social Security has all of your updated information and a complete picture of your medical history and impairments.
2. You MUST seek medical treatment to win Social Security disability
It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT if you’re applying for Social Security disability that you get regular treatment from licensed medical providers. While everyone knows that medical treatment is expensive, you can’t let the cost of medical care prevent you from getting treatment.
The Social Security Administration will only consider medical conditions that are “medically determinable impairments.” This means you can’t just tell them what your conditions are symptoms are, you actually must have definite diagnoses from your doctor. You CAN’T WIN your Social Security claim without this medical evidence.
If you don’t get medical treatment, it looks like you are telling the Social Security Administration that your conditions aren’t really severe. Also, if you don’t show up or cancel scheduled medical appointments, those “no shows” and cancellations will appear in your medical records. Those types of entries do not help your case.
So, as you can see, it is extremely important for you to see your doctors on a regular basis and keep all of your appointments.
3. You MUST follow your doctors’ orders
Your doctors will evaluate your medical conditions and will lay out a treatment plan. If you don’t follow your doctors’ treatment plan, it will be hard to convince Social Security that your medical problems are severe enough for you to be disabled. Because there’s a possibility that your condition could improve if you follow your doctors’ treatment plan, you have to show Social Security that you tried to get better but are still having problems.
So, it’s important that you take your medications, follow any physical restrictions, and go to specialists if a referral is made. If you ignore your doctors’ instructions, Social Security may think you are actually able to work.
4. You MUST get specific opinions from your doctors
Doctors are busy people. Sometimes, they are so busy that they complete work restriction notes that simply say, “No Work,” or “Completely Disabled.” In most cases, Social Security will not approve your disability claim on this statement from your doctor. Rather than a short statement like this, it’s best to get written, detailed instructions from your doctor about how much you can lift, walk, stand, etc. These instructions should match up with your medical conditions, pain level, and any side effects you experience from your medications.
At the Ritchie Law Firm, our practice is to have our clients’ doctors complete residual functional capacity (RFC) forms, to provide persuasive evidence to support our clients’ disability cases. If you need help obtaining these forms or additional medical evidence, speak with your disability lawyer or treating doctor.
5. DON’T minimize or exaggerate your symptoms and limitations
Be absolutely truthful in all of your communication with your doctors and with Social Security. Even early communications set the bar for determining whether your doctors and Social Security will believe you. It is also important to be thorough in giving your doctor a list of all of your symptoms, so they can be documented in your medical records. If your doctor’s records doesn’t include the same symptoms and conditions you report on your Social Security applications, they may find that you are able to work. Along the same lines, if you exaggerate your symptoms to your doctor or to Social Security’s consultative examiner, this may affect your credibility. It’s important to be completely honest.
6. Keep a record of your symptoms
One of the best things you can do for your Social Security case it to keep a symptom diary. This is simply a written record of the pain or other symptoms you experience each day with an explanation of how those symptoms affect your daily life. You can keep this diary on a calendar, in a notebook, in a computer program, etc.
What Makes Ritchie Law Firm Different?
Many Virginia lawyers say they practice Social Security Disability law. But, most of those lawyers have not had years of experience winning Social Security Disability cases. That’s what makes us different. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we have a team of lawyers who have the experience of handling Social Security Disability cases and WINNING. Sure, we also handle personal injury cases. But, Social Security Disability cases are a different beast. And, we know how to handle them.
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, our disability team will review your denial letter for FREE. Then, with no obligation and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, we’ll tell you our game plan for winning your case.
If you want your disability case handled by a team of lawyers trained to handle this difficult area of the law that few lawyers know the first thing about, your search is over. Whatever stage of applying for benefits you are in, whether you haven’t yet applied or you’ve been denied, we are happy to help. Click here to give us some details about your case.
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