Tips For Winning Your Social Security Disability Case

Key To Your Winning Your Social Security Disability Case
Key To Your Winning Your Social Security Disability Case

1. Be ready for your disability application before the process even starts. Interviews with claims representatives at field offices can be intimidating and a little nerve-wracking. Be sure you know what disabilities you are alleging, the date you claim you became disabled, and the names, addresses and phone numbers for all of your doctors and other healthcare providers.

2. Getting your medical records together yourself is likely to help jumpstart your case. You may consider getting your medical records together and submitting them when you apply for disability to avoid the delay that follows when Social Security requests them.

3. Get your pain symptoms on record so that Social Security can take this into consideration. If you have pain, absolutely mention it when you apply and get it included as part of your disability application. Be clear and specific about where you have pain and how it limits you.

4. Never minimize your pain or other symptoms. Describe how your symptoms affect your ability to do normal daily activities. Likewise, do not exaggerate your pain or other limitations.

5. Always list every one of your medical conditions, physical or mental. Disability cases are complex. It is often the combination of conditions which results in a favorable ruling.

6. Symptoms alone are not enough to win. Your medical records must show an objective medical reason for the symptoms you have. If you do not have a doctor or if your doctor is not helping you, you may want to find another doctor.

7. Be sure you tell your doctor all about your situation so that your medical records include details of your limitations. A doctor who does not record observations and has no support for his opinion, is not persuasive. Try to build a strong relationship with your doctor.

8. Strengthen your disability case by providing the details of your work history. Social Security looks at all the jobs you have had in the past 15 years to see if you can do any of them again.

9. Be sure to provide treatment information as far back as you can recall. Make sure to do this at least as far back as you are alleging that your condition, or conditions, began to affect your functioning and cause you to be unable to work.

10. It is important to mention any mental conditions along with the physical impairment you have. Your mental condition may eliminate jobs that require you to stay on task, concentrate, perform complex tasks, remember instructions, etc.

11. Decisional notices are just one of several reasons that you should always tell Social Security your current mailing address. If you move while you are awaiting a decision, you should notify both the disability examiner working on your case and the local Social Security office where you began your claim, as well as your attorney’s office.

12. A Social Security medical examination usually offers little to your case – nonetheless, do not miss an appointment. Remember it is a tool used by the Social Security disability agency to close cases (deny claims) rather than to help you receive benefits. Be sure to tell this doctor the things which you feel make you disabled.

Affleck and Gordon, P.C.
Attorneys and Counselors at Law

AJC Claims Social Security Administration is Reducing Staff

See AJC Article:

http://www.myajc.com/news/national-govt–politics/this-atlanta-woman-lost-her-home-waiting-for-disability/Nd0uGeSLLQD1bSYz6bHBKM/

Recently Chris Joiner wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the Social Security Administration is facing a reduction in staffing at the same time that there are more and more people filing claims for disability benefits. He quoted a Judge as saying that SSA does not act like this is a crisis BUT it IS a CRISIS.
A person who applies for SSA disability benefits today is likely to wait 2 and a half to 3 years for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Meanwhile that person is not working, is sick or injured, has a hard time seeing a doctor and is relying on friends and family.

We can help. Although we cannot speed up the system, we can help you strengthen your claim. Medical evidence which documents your conditions and the functional problems that you are having is vital to your claim. We will help you develop this evidence.

SSA has Listings of impairments which may support your case. We can help you identify and apply the Listing which describes your condition.
If you are facing foreclosure, utility shut off, eviction or some other situations, we can request that your case be expedited. Social Security puts all the burden on you to establish your case. We can help.

Written by Judy Bloom

Social Security: by Larry Gordon

 

Social Security
I have worked with the Social Security Administration and been involved with the disability process for my entire career. I first worked for the nation’s Chief Administrative Law Judge beginning in 1977, and then entered private practice as a disability attorney in 1983. Unfortunately, length of the disability process has always been a challenge for the Social Security Administration. To show how times have changed, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that I worked for in Atlanta from 1978-1983 tried to get all his cases scheduled for a hearing within 90 DAYS of when the hearing was requested by the claimant!! Today, that wait time is over 400 days in many parts of the country and throughout much of the South.

Thus, it was no surprise to me, but very sad nonetheless, to read that the Washington Post reports that in the past year, approximately 10,000 persons passed away before getting a final decision from the Social Security Administration. (There is an expedited process for dire need cases for people who have a terminal illness or other dire need circumstances. These people will have their case often finalized before the person dies). The above cited number, however, is staggering!!

All claimants should be aware that if there case is a strong one, however, many ALJ’s may accept a request for “on-the-record” review. This means the ALJ will review the medical records and the vocational profile of the claimant to see if a favorable decision can be rendered without the claimant a hearing. If your case falls into such a category, you should make sure the lawyer handling your case has reviewed all of your medical records to see if such a request is in order. Most requests for “on-the-record” reviews are denied, but worth a try as you do not lose your place in line for a hearing.

From my perspective the lengthy delays border on gross negligence on the part of the Social Security Administration and the US Congress. This gross negligence goes back to at least, the last two presidential administrations. The last presidential administration is particularly at fault as the necessity for more judges was obvious. Part of the overflow of disability filings is caused by the large number of “Baby Boomers” (people born between 1946-1964) who have reached an age where they are more likely to file for disability. Despite this, the government has been terribly slow in hiring new Judges.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a significant movement to address these issues. We are lacking a very powerful lobbying group who represents the disabled community. As a result, our representatives and senators have not been pushed to remedy this problem. Hopefully, in time, we will see change. It is my hope that in the future, the number of people who pass away while waiting for their case to be processed will be dramatically decreased.

If you need help with the disability process or would like more information about options for how to request an expedited status, please Affleck & Gordon at 404-373-1649.