As representatives, we are asked a lot of questions. The big one is, “Will I get approved?” Here are the 7 best ways to make sure you stay on track to getting there.
As is the case with most legal claims, what counts in disability evaluations is what you can prove. If no medical records exist to support your claim of disability, then you’re unlikely to be successful. Social Security figures that if your medical condition is severe enough to keep you from working, then it should justify doctor visits, tests, diagnosis, and treatment. Make sure you’ve received medical treatment within the past year–the more recent the better! Continue going to treatment throughout your claim. The more information you have from the present about your disability, the better it is for your case.
Detailed health care records.
Without records, you’re unlikely to remember the dates and key details of every doctor visit, diagnostic test, medication, and therapy. Get the business card of every doctor you see and keep them in a safe place. It is also a good idea to keep a list of your medication, the dosage, the reason for taking it, and any side effects. Under federal patient health access laws like HIPAA (this is one of the forms you sign when you go to a new doctor), you are entitled to copies of your records. Exercise your rights and keep the documents stored in a safe and secure place. Some doctors will even make CD’s for you.
Know your symptoms and limitations.
SSA does not expect you to be an expert on medical conditions, but they’ll want details on your symptoms.
- how severe is your pain?
- Is it constant or intermittent?
- What aggravates your pain?
- What reduces it?
No one knows your symptoms better than you. Create a log or keep a journal where you can record your symptoms daily, and explain them in factual detail. Don’t omit or gloss over any lesser complaints because you have one primary or dominating condition or complaint. You want to paint a full and accurate picture of your daily health.
- 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?
- How does your medical condition affect your daily activities?
Remember that the Social Security Administration will focus on your limitations rather than your diagnosis. Keep observations over time alongside your symptoms. Daily activities include things like dressing yourself, bathing, running errands or driving, caring for children, walking, and social functions such as participating in sports or other activities.
Collect written statements.
If you can get a written statement from a doctor that says you are not able to work, that’s fantastic. Getting a written statement for your disability case from your doctor is always a plus. You can also get written statements from those who have been around you most during your disability; perhaps you live with them or they are a close friend. Lastly, don’t forget that writing your own statement about being homeless, unfit living conditions, or bills that aren’t getting paid is good to expedite your case as well and should be sent to your representative as soon as possible.
Know your claim. A vital part to making sure your case stays on track, is knowing your claim. When did you first file your claim? When was the date of your most recent denial? What level are you at right now in your claim? Is your claim pending? If your claim has been denied, has it been appealed within 60 days? Having a file folder with this information is very important. Highlighting the information is even better as some of the letters you will received from SSA and your representatives will tell you exactly what’s happening with your case.
Work history. Make sure you tell your Social Security Representative where you have worked over the past ten years and for how long. If you have worked for five years out of the past ten years, that determines a lot for your case as far as what you can receive. If you are currently working now, make sure you are very honest with how often you work and how much you make because that can determine if your case is likely to be approved or not.
This one speaks for itself. When applying for Social Security Disability, the best way to be is completely honest. As Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” When you’re working on a claim, you might have to remember a lot, but if you’re speaking the truth of what you’re going through then your words will match up with your medical records as well and everything will be consistent, leading to a more believable case.
If you have any questions or need assistance with you disability claim, please call us at Muse Disability Services 1-800-922-4011.