The most common reason clients don’t win their disability cases is because the judge does not believe them. Your credibility is a function of many factors, some of which are out of your control. But today I am focusing on two areas you can control that affect a judge’s perception of your credibility.
Two Ways to Make Yourself Credible
You can improve the odds of a judge believing your claim by:
- Making every effort to get medical treatment by the most qualified/specialized physician or psychologist possible. For example, if you suffer from arthritis or fibromyalgia, the best medical provider is usually a rheumatologist. If you have neuropathy caused by diabetes, an internist or neurologist may be the most helpful. If severe depression is one of your significant impairments, you should seek the assistance of a psychiatrist or psychologist rather than your primary care physician. While there are exceptions to this general rule, it is something to consider when deciding where to get your medical treatment.
- Being honest with your doctors. If you go to your doctors and tell them you are “ok,” “fine,” or that you “just need a prescription refill” a judge might think you are not disabled.
Every time you see a doctor is an opportunity to help the doctor (and the judge!) better understand how your impairments limit your ability to work.
- If back pain prevents you from sitting at the kitchen table long enough to eat dinner—let your doctor know.
- If you get out of breath merely walking up a flight of stairs or to the mailbox—let your doctor know.
- If you are so depressed you hear or see things that you know are not really there—let your doctor know.
Every time you see a doctor is an opportunity for the doctor to better understand the severity of your medical or psychological problems. This helps your doctor provide you with the best treatment possible. At some point it is likely a Social Security judge will review the things you discussed with your doctors when considering credibility.
When the problems or limitations you discuss with your physicians are accurately reflected in your medical records and your hearing testimony is similar to what you repeatedly discuss with your doctors, the judge is more likely to come to the right conclusion about your credibility.
These issues are important ones to consider and be made aware of when you are fighting for your Social Security disability benefits. To learn more useful tips about what you can do to protect your rights, please download a FREE copy of our report, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.