How to Win Your Social Security Disability Case
So, you’ve recently had some kind of accident or injury, you’ve come down with a serious illness, or you’re suffering from a debilitating physical or mental condition that is interfering with your ability to work.
You may have heard that there is a possibility of obtaining some kind of financial support through a claim for Social Security Disability. But what IS Social Security Disability, who qualifies for it, and how does one go about getting it?
This article is not intended to be a comprehensive academic treatise on the Social Security Disability system, its history, its structure, or its regulations. Instead, this is for you, the individual who has already filed for Social Security Disability or, perhaps, who is only just thinking about doing so.
This is also not a road map on how TO file a claim. That information is readily available on Social Security’s website: https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/
Assuming that you have already filed your claim, here are some of the most important things you may need to know at this point.
After you file your claim, it is likely that your application will be denied. Don’t let that surprise you. Almost no one except the most catastrophically injured individuals will be found “Disabled” at this first level of the application process. So, what do you do if your claim has been denied?
Don’t stop there! Don’t give up! Do not start over. Do not file a new claim. Filing a new claim is not the same thing as appealing your current denial order. Instead, file an appeal of your denial, and make sure you do so, in writing or online, within SIXTY (60) days of the date of your receipt of the denial order. If you fail to properly appeal the denial within that 60-day deadline, you are essentially agreeing with that denial, and obtaining further Social Security Disability benefits after that can be difficult, if not impossible.
What else should you do after receiving a denial letter?
Call an experienced attorney who handles Social Security Disability cases. Almost all attorneys who represent disabled individuals in these claims will see you and discuss your questions and concerns for no cost, whether they end up taking your case or not, so getting some expert legal advice as early as you can is always a good idea.
WINNING YOUR CLAIM – Set yourself up for success!
- It’s all about your medical records. The Social Security Administration will only consider your disabling conditions, symptoms and limitations if they are clearly diagnosed, described, and documented in your doctors’ medical records. Therefore, you must make sure that all of your medical records have been sent to Social Security.
- It’s all about your medical records, part two. I know. I already said that. But there’s more. It’s not enough that the disability evaluators at Social Security merely have your medical records. It’s also vital that they have the right KIND of medical records; records that say the right things in the right way.
Your medical records must tell Social Security at least 3 important things. Your records will need to show, based on all the appropriate diagnostic tests and objective findings;
- a) WHAT your disabling injury or condition is. You will need a clear diagnosis of your conditions.
- b) HOW BAD, or how severe the injury or condition is, as demonstrated by medical tests, X-rays, MRIs, and also by the kinds of medical treatment that your condition has undergone or will be needing.
- c) HOW LIMITING those injuries and conditions are. Your doctors’ limitations should be set out in very clear, measurable, real-world terms. In other words, what are the specific limitations and restrictions that your doctors have imposed on you because of your various injuries and illnesses.
You will need your doctors to express their opinions on such questions as how much you can lift and how often should you be asked to lift that weight. Is it safe for you to climb ladders or stairs? Are you able to safely squat, crouch and crawl? Are your hands able to grip objects or handle fine motor manipulation? How long can you sit, walk, or stand, in one stretch, and how many hours could you be expected to do any of those things in a typical 8-hour work shift?
If your limitations are based on mental health conditions, how do they limit you? Is your memory impaired, and if so, are there tests that demonstrate your limitations? Does your psychiatrist feel that you can work with the general public? Does he or she believe that you can deal with the stress of normal employment-related pressures? If not, why not?
Even though you, the claimant, can describe your symptoms and can tell Social Security about what you feel that you can and cannot do, unless your doctors have specifically quantified and described your mental and physical restrictions, you are essentially at the mercy of a disability reviewer’s own personal opinion as to how limiting those conditions might be.
Therefore, to sum up the main points I want to leave with you, remember these things.
*File your claim as soon as you feel that your injuries or illnesses are keeping you from performing work for which you have both the training and the physical/mental ability to do.
*Expect to be denied, and be ready to properly appeal that denial in a timely manner.
*Consult an experienced attorney right away following any denial.
*See and treat with appropriate doctors who can document your conditions and clearly describe your restrictions and limitations.
*Make sure that Social Security has ALL of your medical records for each and every condition that you feel limits your ability to work in some manner.
Good luck, and give us a call! Our phone number is 253-472-2400. We would be happy to discuss the merits of your claim with you.