Social security disability is uniquely different from the types of cases that most lawyers handle. The regulations are very specialized; the procedures are completely different. The Social Security Administration has its own internal court system with administrative law judges. You need to handle hundreds or thousands of these cases to really be able to provide the best service. Also, Social Security Disability cases allow me to help the underdog by helping people find their way through the federal bureaucracy.
How Can I Increase My Chances Of Receiving Disability Benefits?
First and foremost, medical evidence is what you need to increase your chances of being approved. You must be under the treatment of a doctor. The first thing they ask for is a list of the doctors or hospitals where you have received treatment. They request those records and then they make a decision. The first decision and the second decision are based strictly on the medical evidence. The medical evidence has to support your disability claim. The more you concentrate on medical evidence, the more you want to have contact with your doctor. Let your doctor know that you are applying for disability and try to get his or her support. If you don’t have a doctor on your side, then you are going to have to depend either on the Social Security Administration of their own interpretation of those records or you are going to need to go to an administrative law judge hearing.
The second most important thing is how you fill out some of the forms that you are required to complete with the disability application. There is a form that is called a function report. It asks about how you spend your time during the day, whether you are able to do housework, whether you can cook, whether you can do yard work, whether you can drive, etc. It is a long form full of questions about how you function physically and mentally, because one way of determining what your limitations are and how disabled you are is by looking at your activity level. It is important not to minimize your limitations in any way and not to list the activities that you can only manage occasionally.
Similarly, the work activity report is a form on which you list and describe all the jobs you’ve had within the past 15 years. Do not portray your job as having more authority or more knowledge than you really had. Otherwise, it may appear that you have skills that can be applied to doing a less physically demanding job and your case may be denied based upon skills that you don’t really have.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.