Gaithersburg: 301-670-7030
Baltimore: 410-769-5400
Frederick: 301-668-2100
Contact Us For Legal Help

Social Security Disability Blog

3 Suggestions To Increase Your Chances Of Winning A Claim For Social Security Disability Benefits

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies a whopping 72% of the initial disability benefit applications and denies about 90% of reconsiderations (the first level of appeal). (Annual Statistical Report, 2011). Though these numbers might make you think poorly of SSA, in most of these cases the evidence in SSA’s record just does not support a claim for disability. You may, in fact, be disabled but theevidence in SSA’s possessiondoes not support disability. If you are applying for disability benefits or at an appeal stage, below are three suggestions to increase your chance of success.

1. Make sure medical provider information is accurate and current

Your application for disability benefits requests the dates, names and addresses of your medical providers. This is because SSA will contact the providers and request your medical records. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s great that SSA takes on the headache of getting copies of your medical records and even pays the medical records copy fees. But it’s a curse because SSA may not have all of the medical records to support your claim for disability in the record.

An incomplete medical record at SSA is typically because of one of two reasons. First, the medical provider may not have responded to the record request. Unfortunately, this is fairly common. SSA does not have the personnel to pester medical providers who fail to respond to medical records requests. Second, you may have failed to provide accurate and/or current medical provider information. If you do not provide the SSA with accurate addresses or current information about your treatment, they obviously will not be able to obtain those medical records.

So my advice is to be diligent about providing the correct names and address of all of your medical providers to SSA. And for those truly motivated individuals, you might request a complete set of your own medical records and provide copies to SSA. In this way you can be the one to pester your doctors for not providing copies of medical records.

2. Obtain specific work restrictions from your treating doctor

Even if SSA does get all of your doctor’s reports, the reports they receive may not be enough to prove you are disabled. The doctor’s diagnosis of failed back syndrome, bipolar disorder, or muscular dystrophy is often not enough to prove that you are unable to work. Standard medical records contain four basic sections: complaints, examination findings, diagnosis, and treatment. There is no section of a standard medical report for the doctor to provide information regarding your ability to work. Thus, try to get your treating physician to indicate in writing your restrictions as a result of your medical condition and submit this information to the SSA. By restrictions I mean how much you can lift, how long you can sit or stand, etc. A doctor’s note that simply states you are unable to work is rarely persuasive to the SSA.

3. Hire an attorney

I know it sounds self-serving, but consider hiring an attorney. A competent attorney who practices before SSA can be an invaluable resource in making sure the evidence that SSA uses to make its decision is sufficient and complete. An attorney is also a good idea if you are heading to a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.

The numbers seem to support the idea that hiring an attorney might be a good idea. The Social Security Advisory Board found that people who had an attorney at the initial application stage were more likely to be awarded benefits. (SSAB, 2012). And the Government Accounting Office found that people who had an attorney at their hearing were more likely to win their case. (GAO, 2003).

By David Galinis

RSS

What Our Clients Say

Known for our unwavering commitment to clients, for our integrity, and for delivering the best results, our clients continue to refer their friends, families and neighbors to us for their legal needs.


"One year ago today I made the call to your office. The best decision I could make. I wanted to share with you how impressed I am with your staff and your professionalism."

Heather P.


"Craig did a great job representing me! He's the lawyer I have trusted with my legal needs because he's professional, knowledgeable, and keeps me informed about my case."

Jaclyn K.


"I would like to express my gratitude for your efforts and dedication for my disability case. It's has been quite a long and upsetting process but you have handled my case in an extremely competent and responsible manner."

Leo H.


"I have recommended Mr. Feldman to several of my friends and colleagues and have heard nothing but excellent reviews. He is the best lawyer I have ever used."

Martin


"I received the check today. I could not believe it until I saw the check. Thank you so much. You have improved my family's quality of life tenfold."

Mike F.


"These guys go above and beyond! They always have your best interest in mind."

Mike W.


"You have been kind throughout this process and I appreciate your professionalism as well as your gentle concern. Thanks for helping us and all the others who need your legal expertise. We are grateful."

Nancy F.


"Thanks to Mr. Shultz's aggressive and professional work ethic style I was able to receive the medical services and compensation pertaining to my case."

Navdeep C.


"I can honestly say this firm is simply TOP NOTCH! They not only have handled countless cases for my members that require their services, they also have gone well beyond their "scope" to help some of my folks in other areas of need. "

Rick H.


"The attention and professional care the staff has taken toward my needs has always been excellent. I have no complaints nor worries that my issues discussed are not addressed."

Tim T.


"I just got off the phone with Craig and let him know how thankful we are to you, him and Ken for all your efforts – you are all really terrific to work with!"

Val K.


Locations Throughout Maryland, Virginia & Washington DC

Gaithersburg Office

481 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 301-670-9492

Lutherville Office

1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
410-769-5400 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 410-769-9200

Frederick Office

30 W. Patrick Street, Suite 105
Frederick, MD 21701
301-668-2100 / 800-827-2667
Fax: 301-668-2000

Subscribe To Our Newsletter


TOP