Get regular medical treatment for your condition(s).
The most important evidence in your Social Security claim is your medical evidence and that is why it is crucial to maintain consistent treatment. In San Francisco, an Administrative Law Judge will base his or her decision upon the medical evidence in your file. They will look to see if you have been getting regular treatment for the impairments that you are claiming. If your medical records are not recent or do not accurately reflect your stated medical impairments, it can have a negative effect on your claim. Make sure all of your treatment is documented and up to date.
Have your doctor fill out a Medical Source Statement. What is a Medical Source Statement?
A medical source statement is a questionnaire that your doctor fills out which focuses on what your functional limitations are. It shows what you can and cannot do because of your disability. This document is very important because an administrative law judge will look at this statement and use it to help decide whether you can still do your past job(s) or any job based on the statements given by your doctor. If your file contains a medical source statement filled out by one of your treating physicians, that medical source statement is given more weight at the hearing compared to the one completed by a Social Security doctor who is not your regular treating physician.
Comply with your doctors’ orders.
It is very important that you follow the treatments that you doctor prescribes for your condition(s). Administrative law judges will look in your file to see if you have been following your doctor’s orders. For example, they will look to see if you have been compliant with any medications that have been prescribed for you or any other treatments that they have ordered for you. If you refuse to take medications or follow other prescribed treatments, Social Security is likely to think that your actions prevent your conditions from improving.
Be sure to comply with requests from Social Security.
Throughout the decision process, Social Security makes many requests of applicants. It is important that you fill out any paperwork that they ask you to fill out. Social Security may also schedule a consultative exam for you. A consultative exam is an exam that is set up and paid for by Social Security. It is kind of like Social Security getting a second opinion from one of their doctors regarding your conditions. It is very important that you go to any consultative exam appointments that are scheduled for you by Social Security.
Refrain from Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
Under the law, Social Security no longer pays benefits if it is shown that drugs or alcohol are a material contributing factor to your disability. If your medical records show drug or alcohol abuse, your claim may be denied by Social Security. However, if you used drugs or alcohol in the past and have now stopped, it is important that that fact be noted in your medical records. Also, an even stronger piece of evidence in this situation is what’s called a drug and alcohol abuse statement. This is a short statement by your treating doctor stating that in their opinion drugs and/or alcohol use is not a material contributing factor to your disability.
Write your Congressperson.
Write your congressperson a letter outlining your situation and they may make an inquiry about your case to Social Security. While a letter from a congressperson cannot influence the decision on your Social Security claim, it may speed up the process, especially in dire need situations.
Don’t Give Up!
Please understand that the process one must go through to be awarded Social Security benefits can be long and difficult. We here at DGI are here to help you in your fight for benefits. Denial rates are high and the majority of cases will not be resolved until after you have a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Keep this in mind and trust that DGI will do everything within our power to get you the benefits you deserve.
· The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.