Social Security Disability – Evidence Needed to Solve the Case
When you watch a crime show or read a mystery book, you realize the detectives are always looking for evidence. They talk to potential suspects and look over paperwork. They review everything very closely and, over time, put the pieces together to come to a conclusion. The work the Social Security Administration (SSA) does in reviewing a claim for disability is similar to the detective’s process as the SSA is always looking for evidence to make a determination in the claim.
Social Security has disability programs for people who are unable to work due to a medical condition. However, most individuals don’t realize the importance of the evidence. Whenever I speak with someone who has just applied for Social Security disability benefits, the most common question they ask me is how long it will take them to receive benefits. They don’t generally ask about what evidence they need to be approved for benefits or if I think they have the evidence needed to be approved. They just presume that because they are unable to work due to a medical condition, they will be approved for benefits. Unfortunately, the reality is very different.
As anyone who has been approved to receive Social Security disability benefits knows, it is a long and draining process which ultimately depends on the evidence to support the claim. The evidence must show that you have a medical condition or conditions that have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months (or result in death) AND that such condition or conditions cause such significant limitations as to prevent someone from working a full-time job. While your medical condition is important to a claim, a diagnosis alone is not enough. It’s the degree of your limitations that result from the conditions which will determine if you are found to be disabled or not. A diagnosis alone is not enough. While that may sound relatively simple to someone who has a disease and knows they are limited, proving it requires documentation of specific evidence to support the individual’s claim that they are unable to work.
In order to make their determination, the SSA will inspect a person’s life to gather all the information necessary to make a decision in the case. Like a detective working a case, the SSA will want to know about almost all aspects of a person’s life. They will ask about daily activities and limitations, as well as closely review medical records looking for evidence that the person is or is not able to work. A doctor’s opinion stating you cannot work is not enough by itself. There must be evidence in the doctor’s notes of the severity of the condition and limitations resulting from that condition. As a detective pursues a case to decide if the evidence supports an arrest, the SSA pursues a case to decide if someone is disabled or not disabled.
So, how do you assist the SSA in the pursuit of you case and increase your chance of being found disabled? Remember, it’s all about the evidence of your limitations. Individuals with disabilities often get used to living a certain way to accommodate their disabilities and thus, forget the ways in which they adjust they lives on a daily basis. It is very important to be aware of your limitations when applying for disability benefits. And not be embarrassed to talk about them.
Overall, the person needs to follow their doctor’s directions and keep track of all the problems they are having related to their disability. There must be evidence of ongoing medical treatment with clear documentation of the ways that the individual’s condition limits them. The person needs to keep medical appointments and be referred to specialists as needed. They need to talk to their doctor about all their conditions, the way the conditions make them feel, and how they limit them.
Here are some suggestions for persons who have or are considering applying for SSI or SSD that would be helpful;
- Keep a short daily diary tracking how you feel each day and what activities you are have difficulty doing or completing.
- If you require any type of assistance, make a note what assistance is needed and how it assists you.
- If you participate in any scheduled activities or volunteer, keep notes of how you feel after doing any of those activities. If you work part-time, keep notes of any accommodations you have at work or problems you have performing your job duties.
The more credible information the person has about their limitations, the more likely they are to be awarded benefits. By getting all the information to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible, you may help them solve your own case … and be found eligible for disability benefits! NPLS provides representation in cases where people have been wrongfully denied benefits. If you are denied benefits, file an appeal, and then contact NPLS or the local lawyer referral program and seek legal advice or representation.