Friday, February 04, 2011

How Can I Win My Social Security Disability Case?

Recently, I came across this question and the following commentary in a forum. “I have mental health issues, migraines, and insomnia. I have a hearing for Social Security Disability. I am very nervous and I would like to know what goes on at the hearing and how I can win. I am not a fake; I truly need the SSDI. I do have a lawyer.”

This statement garnered the following response: Do everything you can to recreate a list of days you had to get medical treatment and why, what you were able or unable to do when you were suffering from your disabling condition, and what you have done to recover your ability, so that you can show an ongoing or worsening situation.

While I do not totally disagree with this response, I am also not sure that it will help you win a disability case. An administrative law judge would be interested in how an individual’s disabling conditions have affected their daily life and their ability to maintain employment. To this end, the administrative law judge may ask questions about an individual’s medical treatment, medications, the side effects of their medications, and how their impairment has prevented them from performing their past work activity.

In this situation, the claimant's lawyer should have obtained current medical treatment information and forwarded this information to the Social Security hearing office prior to the hearing date. Additionally, the lawyer should have obtained a statement from their treating physician that contains a diagnosis, prognosis, response to prescribed medical treatment, and an opinion as to what the individual is able to do in spite of their medical or mental health issues. Additionally, the person's lawyer should be familiar with their client's work history and all disability lawyers and non-attorney claimant's representatives should be familiar with the Social Security medical vocational guidelines.

It is hard to know exactly what an administrative law judge might require from the disability applicant. However, there are things that all disability applicants should keep in mind when attending a Social Security disability hearing. Disability applicants should come to their hearing in proper attire (this is a hearing before a judge), be on time, and be prepared to answer questions about their daily life, their medical treatment, and how their condition has prevent them from working. If the disability applicant has representation, their representative will present their case to judge, and the judge may or may not have questions for them.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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