How to Improve Your Claim

Straight forward advice on how to improve your chances of getting approved for benefits sooner

 
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When you apply for benefits on-line you will have a chance to provide a statement on why you are disabled. Use the little space provided to describe how you are limited by your symptoms. Be specific and make sure to include details such as how much, when, how often, and how bad. 

You will also be requested to provide a list of your recent medical treatment. You will also be requested to provide a list as a list of medications. You should have this information before you apply.  You will also be requested to provide Social Security authorization to obtain your medical records. If you fail to provide a complete list of your medical providers they will make a decision without considering all of your medical records.

After applying for disability benefits you will be asked to fill out several other forms.  These are the:

Work History Report

Function Report, and 

Third Party Function Report

  

These statements become part of your evidence file and will be considered at each appeal and at your hearing before a judge. 

Your statements should describe how your medical conditions limit your ability to perform work and home activities.  Here are some suggestions for making statements: 

 

  • Describe how your physical conditions limit your ability to lift and carry, sit, stand, walk, reach, handle finger, grasp, push, and pull. 

 

  • Describe how your mental conditions limit your ability to get along with others, following instructions, carrying out multiple step activities, remaining on task, concentrating, focusing, understanding, remembering, and caring for yourself. 

 

  • If you are limited by pain describe the intensity of pain on a scale of one to ten (ten being the most pain).  Include details on the type of pain (stabbing, sharp, constant, dull, aching, burning).  Describe what makes the pain better and worse.  Describe how pain impacts your sleep, your ability to focus and concentrate, and get along with others.

Make sure to include details on the percentage of the workday and workweek are you limited. Be careful to avoid broad statements and exaggeration.  Statements like, "I can't lift anything" or "I can't get out of bed" can harm your credibility.  At hearing, the judge will use your inaccurate and inconsistent statements against you.

We help you craft your statements to best reflect how you are limited by your medical conditions.  To have us help you fill out your forms, give us a call at 541-345-8474 or send us an email.

 

Your medical records are the foundation of your disability claim.  Your own statements to Social Security need to reflect the statements you made to your doctors, counsellors, physical therapists, nurses and physicians assistants.  

Social Security requests medical records up to a year before the date you say you became disabled.  

 

The release records you take home from the doctor or obtain through your portal are not the same as your treatment records.  

Medical records contain three parts - what you tell the doctor, the examination findings, and the diagnosis and recommendations. 

 

Every time you see a doctor or a treatment provider they make notes on what you complained of, how you appeared, and what they observed.  The statements you make to your doctors are an important part of your medical record. 

That's why it is important to tell your doctors how your symptoms limit you in your life.  Your doctors need to know you in order to best treat you.  Tell your doctor if you have difficulties climbing stairs and loading the dishwasher. Tell your doctor how your symptoms have changed since your last visit.  If you don't tell the doctor about your chronic condition it may not appear in the treatment note and appear to have gotten better.  

Think twice before telling your doctor you have applied for disability.  There are a couple of reasons.  First, your doctor will write it down in the treatment note and it will appear that you are seeking medical care for the purpose of proving your disability.  Second, it may raise concerns with the doctor that you are exaggerating your symptoms for the purpose of appearing disabled.  

 

You see your doctor to get better.  The longer you can put off telling them about filing for disability the better.

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Letters from your doctors, counselors, and treatment providers are important pieces of evidence needed to prove your claim.  However, letters from a doctor, nurse, PA, or counselor saying that you are disabled has no value.  Only the judge can make that determination.

 

The best letters are from doctors who have known you for a long time and are specialists in their field.  If you suffer from fibromyalgia then you want a letter from your rheumatologist. 

Doctors are often reluctant to provide letters.  They have many patients who have presented them five page functional assessment questionnaires.  These questionnaires ask them to provide opinions on how limited you are in every capacity and how likely it is that you would have difficulty working a full-time job.  Not only do the doctors dislike these letters but so do the Social Security judges. 

 

It is important to ask doctors questions that they can answer based on their knowledge of you and within their area of medical expertise.  A carefully crafted letter asking a few crucial questions is more likely to be carefully considered both by the doctor and by the judge than a generic questionnaire.

Doctor letters can be submitted at any time in the disability process.  An on-point statement from your doctor that you can only lift ten pounds at age fifty may help you get your benefits sooner.  Whereas a statement from your doctor you are disabled will not help at any stage of your application for benefits.