5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability

1. Not Hiring an Attorney. Assuming you can go it alone or can’t afford an attorney. Get help from an attorney and don’t wait until the month, the week, the day before the hearing to call a lawyer or your hearing will have to be postponed and reset. Even if you do wait until the last minute, do call an attorney to help you. When you go to the hearing without an attorney the judge will strongly suggest you need an attorney. You might as well get a head start by start calling for an attorney today.

2. Not Appealing Your Denial. Appeal, appeal, appeal each and every denial. And make sure you appeal it timely. You have 60 days plus 5 days mailing time to appeal the denial. You also need to check the status of your claim by calling Social Security as too many claims get lost in the system. If you don’t check the status periodically, you may miss the deadline to appeal. Do keep checking with Social Security on the status of your claim, and don’t forget to keep appealing each and every denial.

3. Not Taking Your Doctor’s Advice. Your doctor tells you, “take your medication and return in 3 months.” It’s a mistake not to take your doctor’s advice, as you can’t get social security disability unless you show continuous and consistent medical treatment. However, you don’t have any money coming in and you can’t afford the doctor’s visits and the medications. You feel as if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re going to have to use free or low cost medical clinics available in your community. If you have a mental impairment, contact your county mental health department. If you have a physical impairment, go online and check out charitable clinics listed on the website at http://charitablecarenetwork.com/resources/find-a-clinic/ Please also review the website’s guidelines in order to use one of their charitable clinics and don’t forget to contact the clinic directly before going to the clinic.

4. Not Including Your Mental Impairments. You need to list ALL your severe impairments including your mental impairments as well as your physical impairments on your application. Not including your mental impairments such as depression or panic attacks may be the key element to winning your disability claim, as your physical impairments may still allow you to hold down a sit-down job but your depression and panic attacks prevented you from holding down sit-down jobs that you could do.

5. Not Going to Social Security’s Medical Exam. When Social Security sends you a notice to attend a medical appointment, it’s a good sign. By sending you to a medical exam, Social Security is telling you that you may have a valid claim and some medical information is missing from your own doctor’s records. You will want to be on time for the doctor’s appointment. If you know you are unable to attend the appointment due to a scheduling conflict, you will need to notify Social Security as far in advance as possible so the appointment may be rescheduled. If you don’t show up, it’s a red flag to the adjudicator and it’s likely that the appointment won’t be rescheduled and your claim will likely be delayed and then denied.

Remember, even if you have been turned down for social security disability benefits, you may still be eligible. Contact our experienced law team at Affleck & Gordon today. We can help.

FREE CONSULTATION – Contact our office today at 404-373-1649 to schedule a free case review.

Can You Get Social Security Disability for Your Herniated Disc?

Yes, and…

There are two ways to get Social Security Disability for your herniated disc. The first way is to show that you meet Social Security’s specific listing on herniated discs and the second way is to show that due to your physical restrictions there are no jobs available in the US economy Which You Would Be Able To Do On An Ongoing Full-Time Basis. We will discuss both methods of getting disability benefits for your herniated disc below. However, it’s worth noting that you’re more likely to win your case by showing there are no jobs available than by meeting a listing because the requirements of listings are often so exact that most people do not meet them.

Method 1 – Listing: The listing for herniated discs is listing 1.04. This listing is extremely specific and requires a compromise of the nerve root with “neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test.” Your herniated disc might cause severe pain, but if you do not have documentation by your doctor of all of the specific requirements in the listing, social security will not find you disabled based on the listing. People rarely win their cases based on the listing because it’s difficult to document all of the findings listed above. You might have a positive straight-leg raise but no atrophy of the muscle. Other times, you might have all of the symptoms listed above, but no evidence of nerve root compromise on your MRI. It is not enough to have a few of the findings in the listing. You must have all of them in your medical treatment records or Social Security will not find you disabled based on the listing alone. All is not lost, however. You can still prove you are disabled due to your herniated disc by showing that your combination of symptoms would make you unemployable.

Method 2 – No Jobs You Can Do: You can get disability for your herniated disc if you show that the symptoms from your herniated disc along with any other health conditions you have would make you unemployable. Social Security will consider more than just your herniated disc. They will also consider all of your other health conditions in determining whether or not you can work. Social Security will look at things like how much you can lift or how long you can stand, walk, and sit in a day to determine if jobs are available that you could do. Social Security will also look at whether you have to lie down during the day, take extra breaks or miss several days a month due to your medical conditions. Social Security will even look at your ability to concentrate and follow instructions due to you medical conditions. If your combination of limitations would make you unemployable, then you can get Social Security Disability due to your herniated disc. Remember, Social Security will find you disabled if your combined symptoms would keep you from being able to do any job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, week in and week out.

What do you need to prove there are no jobs you could do?

In order to prove there are no jobs you could do, you need medical documentation for your doctors of all of your medical conditions. This means you need to make an effort to get regular treatment to document your condition over time. Further, it is helpful to get statements from your doctors on how your medical condition limits your ability to work. This can include a letter from the doctor or simply having your doctor fill out a questionnaire on your condition. Doctors often do not comment on your ability to work in their office notes because they’re focused on treating you rather than commenting on your ability work. It helps to ask your doctor’s opinion on your ability to work. Our firm often gives our clients questionnaires to take to treating physicians to document your symptoms and how they would limit your ability to work. We have developed questionnaires over time that ask the questions we have found are helpful in proving your case.

It can be overwhelming to try to prove that you are disabled. You have to collect medical records and submit them to Social Security and you have to get opinions from doctors that prove your inability to work. We can help you get all this information and improve your chances of getting social security disability benefits. If you would like help proving you are entitled to social security disability due to your herniated disc, feel free to call us at 404-373-1649.

The “Secret Playbook” the Insurance Industry Doesn’t Want You to Read

Shh. Keep this under your hat. The insurance industry has a secret playbook they use with all plaintiffs to try to prevent you from hiring an attorney in order to keep their payouts low. Here’s an excerpt from their secret playbook and remember don’t pass this around – too much.

1. Insurance companies don’t want you to hire a lawyer. Insurance companies pay more money to plaintiffs who hire a lawyer. Therefore, insurance companies will try to tell you that you can do better or just as good without a lawyer. Reason being they want to pay you less than what your claim is worth. It goes without saying that insurance companies are in the business of making money and they make more money the less they pay to settle your claim, regardless of how injured you are or the merits of your case.

2. The insurance adjuster is not your best friend. He may be pleasant on the phone and personally he may understand what you are going through. However, he has a job to do and the less money he pays you, the more money he makes through big bonuses and promotions.

3. The insurance adjuster can tell you things that are not on the level. You are stressed and in pain. The adjuster knows this and will try to take advantage of your vulnerability. He will try to tell you that your case is minor because it’s just a soft tissue injury with no broken bones or a low impact car crash with slight damage to your car. He may try to tell you that you aren’t entitled to certain kinds of benefits such as pain and suffering since you recovered from your injuries within 3 to 6 months or had a prior injury.

4. An insurance adjuster can bluff when negotiating settlement. He can tell you that he doesn’t have any more settlement authority even when he does. For instance, the adjuster can say, “That’s my best offer.” But, the adjuster may be bluffing and have more money. You may hear the adjuster say something to the effect of, “If you hire an attorney, you’ll end up with less money because of attorney fees and trial costs,” or “You have until the end of business today to take the offer or we’ll see you at trial.”

5. A settled case is a closed case. The insurance adjuster wants to close your case. The more open cases he has, the more work he has. This means the adjuster wants to settle, even though he acts as if he could care less about settlement and claims he’d rather go to trial. The adjuster will discount the settlement value of your case considerably until you retain an attorney.

6. The insurance adjuster won’t tell you your rights. The insurance adjuster won’t tell you about things that you have a right to be compensated for. For example, you are entitled to be reimbursed for items such as prescriptions, the loss of use of your car, damage to items in your car, mileage to your doctors, and diminution of value to your car after the wreck.

7. When you are talking to the insurance adjuster, you might as well be talking to their lawyer. The adjuster often has their lawyer on speed dial and has already spoken to the attorney about your case. Adjusters attend training programs put together by their attorneys who know how to push your psychological buttons and prey on your fears of dragging out the case in order to get by with paying you the least amount of money.

8. The insurance company has deep pockets. It goes without saying that the insurance company has millions and billions of dollars and you don’t. In fact, the longer the insurance company holds onto its money, the more money it makes on interest and the more profit it makes. Therefore, it is in the insurance company’s best interest not to settle your case quickly, unless they can settle it cheaply.

9. Prime time TV advertising costs insurance companies big bucks. But insurance companies wouldn’t be spending the big bucks on TV advertising if they weren’t raking in the money.

10. Insurance companies factor the cost of litigation in their decisions. In settlement you should always consider the trial cost in settlement decisions. Besides the cost of paying their attorney there are court reporter, expert and filing fees.

The best defense against the insurance companies’ “Secret Playbook” is to know your rights. Having an Affleck & Gordon lawyer on your side will make the insurance company sit up and take notice. This is because the personal injury lawyers at Affleck & Gordon understand the value of your claim and won’t let the insurance company get away with pressuring you to take a low-ball offer.

If you have been involved in a car wreck or truck accident in the Atlanta area, or anywhere else in Georgia, please call us today at (404) 373-1649.