Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Social Security Disability - Building Strong Medical Evidence

Social Security requires a lot of paperwork when an individual applies for Disability or SSI. Some of the paperwork deals with identification and personal information, work history, daily activities, and related data. Much of the paperwork, however, relates to medical information. This is because Social Security relies heavily on medical records as evidence. If you want to be approved for Social Security disability, you need to know how to build your medical evidence. The stronger the medical records, the stronger the claim. Here are three tips.

Tip #1: Choose the right doctor(s).

Regardless of your specific disability, you will need medical documentation. The only way to do this is to visit at least one physician. Ideally, that would be an experienced, respected doctor in the field of your disability. The more specific the doctor to your disability, the more credibility he or she will have. For instance, if you claim to have back problems, but only see an MD for treatment, your records will probably not contain much useful information other than pain medication. If you have seen a surgeon or spinal specialist, for example, those records will be very valuable to Social Security. A chiropractor or physical therapist is usually not very helpful to a disability claim.

A combination of different doctors is usually a benefit as well. A disability applicant who has migraine headaches and depression, for example, would ideally have seen an MD for the headaches and a psychiatrist or psychologist (or both) for the depression. If you have seen several MDs but none have given sustained treatment, your medical records will be weak at best, full of personal information and initial data that Social Security already knows.

Once you have chosen a physician, make sure he or she is supportive of your applying for disability or SSI. If they sincerely care about your condition and want to help, they will offer to provide medical records and complete any forms necessary. Unfortunately, some doctors are somewhat willing to assist, but are reluctant to fill out forms and give an expert medical opinion. This may be due to a fear of having their credibility questioned and their license taken away (which rarely, if ever, happens). Discuss this with your doctor, and if he or she is unwilling to help, ask if it is because he or she believes you are not disabled, or if it is because they worry about the effects it will have on their practice. With luck, your doctor will be excited to help you get on disability, and there will be no problem.

Tip #2: Be mindful of what is in your medical records.

Once your doctor knows you are applying for Social Security disability, he or she should understand the importance of your medical records. Ask to be tested in any way that may shed light on your disabled state. If you cannot sit for long periods of time, or have to lay down often, discuss it with the doctor and see if he recommends treatments, tests, or restrictions. If there is a medication that may help, discuss it with your doctor. Some of Social Security's medical listings require that you try medications for awhile to see if they help. If your condition does not improve, that can strengthen your disability claim even more.

Make sure your doctor is given a Residual Functional Capacity Evaluation (or Mental Capacity Evaluation if applicable) to complete. If he or she can't answer any of the questions, ask to be tested for that purpose. If he or she reviews the questions on the form and believes that you are not disabled, you are entitled to look elsewhere for another opinion. And finally, make sure that your medical records are submitted to Social Security. Some medical clinics neglect to do so, and it often hurts their patients' disability claims.

Tip #3: Ask for a legal opinion.

Whether you decide to hire a disability lawyer or not, it may be helpful to consult with an expert about the strength of your claim. Disability attorneys are unlike other attorneys, who charge you for each minute of their time. Social Security only allows disability lawyers to charge if you are approved, and then it is always 25% of the back pay, not an hourly rate. If you call a disability lawyer and explain your situation, he or she should be able to give an opinion on the strength of your case, and will probably know instantly what Social Security will need to approve your claim. Disability lawyers usually have the necessary forms for your doctor on file, and may even know your doctor personally. It is definitely worth looking into, regardless of whether you hire him or not.

Wherever you are in the disability process, best of luck.

Becca has been involved in the Social Security world since 1995 and enjoys watching the program change peoples' lives.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Becca_Rode

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