Here are just a few of the tips the video addresses regarding what you should do after my Social Security
Disability hearing, part II.
Clean up any medical conflicts in your records:
- What is a conflict?
- Why is this important?
- The court has to address conflicts
- If you leave it to the court, you may not like the outcome
- Conflicting doctors statements
- One doctor says one thing
- Another doctor says another
- Ask one of your doctors to review both statements and clarify
- Be aware you may not like the answer
- Internal conflicts within your doctors’ records
- Your doctors say one thing
- But the notes in their file says something else
- Ask your doctor to clarify and address the conflict
I have probably talked about this countless times over the years. The social security disability process is a marathon not a sprint. However, the reality is that everyone struggles. It’s tough to sit here and have to wait a year or even two years for the even remote possibility that you might get some disability benefits.
The reality is, you’re tired. You still keep getting bills. You need more money for food. You’re probably really tired jumping back-and-forth from different place to different place because you want to place a steak for you to rely on others. It is frustrating
I am not here to tell you that there is a guarantee you’re going to get disability benefits. What I am going to tell you is that you almost have to go through the entire process in its entirety for a positive outcome to even possibly occur. That might not be very comforting but unfortunately it is the reality of the disability process and you need to be prepared for it.
So, in the meantime, educate yourself on what you need to do. Make sure you go to the doctor’s appointments. Make sure you do what your doctor says. You want to make sure you do everything possible to put your case in the most positive light possible.
I know a lot of you have been waiting a long time and have really found yourself frustrated going through this disability process.
But wouldn’t it make you mad, if you did something that was within your control and then you did something that screwed up your entire case? I know this sounds overly simplified. But the reality is, you are in control of one very powerful aspect of your case. Your credibility. So why would you do anything that would jeopardize your credibility? Everything that you fill out, sign, or even testify, is under oath. You are telling the federal government that you promise to tell the truth. Not some version of the truth. Not some variation of the truth. You’re committing to telling the truth. So why would you do something with the hope that you don’t get caught? Why would you leave out some very key information in the hopes that the government doesn’t ask you about it or bring it up?
Keep in mind, you’re dealing with people. And people can be very skeptical if somebody decides to selectively keep certain information away from them or flat out lies. So I say this not to frighten you but to remind you that you have a responsibility to prove that you are disabled. So don’t do anything that would jeopardize your ability to present your case in the best and most positive way possible.
The last thing you want to have happen is you misrepresent some facts or even lie and have the person who is responsible for evaluating your case, cast a lot of doubt on what you have been saying about how disabling your condition really is is.
Daily activity tips: How do you cook??
I am sure you are probably telling yourself that this is a dumb question. It is probably a dumber question when you are applying for disability benefits. However, it’s important to remember that “HOW” you perform your daily activities may have a bearing on what you say you can or can’t do. Most of us probably don’t time or even pay attention to how long it takes for you to do certain things. But, think about it like this for a moment:
- What kind of meals do you prepare? It’s easy to blow off this question but think about it. If you are preparing microwave meals, is there a reason why you prepare these types of meals.
- How do you prepare your meals? Can you make a meal and stand the entire time? Do you need help making particular meals that you used to make on your own?
- What types of meals do you NO LONGER make? If you are big cooker or baker, why don’t you make certain types of meals? Are the pots and pan too heavy? Do you have a habit of leaving the stove on? Does the sitting or standing in the kitchen hurt you in any away? Do you forget certain things or ingredients?
Remember, when you are disabled, you learn how to accommodate your conditions. These conditions become a part of your ‘new normal’. However, you used to do things differently before your condition affected you. The Social Security Administration does not live with you 24/7 so if you don’t educate them about your condition, they will not know.
When you are applying for disability benefits, it is not uncommon for Social Security Administration to ask you questions about your daily activities. This information is very important because it gives the government a bigger picture about how your condition affects your ability to do things. These types of things may seem silly but you have to keep it in its proper context:
- Your credibility is important. Remember, you are the most important witness to your case so how you describe your limitations in relation to what you do on a daily basis is extremely important.
- Social Security Administration does not live with you. Keep in mind. The only person that can truly educate the government about how your impairment affects you is you. The government is not in your house to watch you do laundry, cook or clean.
- Compare your old normal to your new normal. The disability process can take a couple of years and during this time, you probably have figured out how to work around your medical condition. When describing how you do things, pay attention to how you have modified your actions.
- Pay attention to the little things that require effort. It’s so easy to disregard or ignore the little things but so many times, people overlook the little things they do that cause effort. How do you make your meals? How do your clean your home? How about putting on a shirt or pants?
- Pay attention to what you do as compared to what you do around the house. So many times, people will say they can’t do anything but their daily activities say the complete opposite. So, be mindful of what you say you can or can’t do in relation to your daily activities.
Remember, pay attention to what you do during your day. Only, you can educate the Social Security Administration regarding what you do during the day. So, make sure you pay attention.
A few years ago, I answered this question in a video.
When you are applying for disability benefits, you constantly hear people saying:
“My doctor won’t fill out a form.”
“My doctor won’t write a statement.”
“My doctor won’t say I’m disabled.”
Yes, I know it gets frustrating. It’s even more frustrating due to the fact that the Social Security Administration stresses the importance of relying on medical records in order to prove you are disabled. So what do you in this situation? How do you deal with a doctor who won’t say you’re disabled?
Here’s a few things to consider:
1) The doctor is not obligated to say you’re disabled. The doctor is not obligated to fill out forms. The doctor is not obligated to write a statement for you. The only thing the doctor is obligated to do is to treat you for your condition.
2) The limitations are more important than the statement. Any doctor can say you’re disabled but if the records don’t provide the basis for how the doctor reaches this conclusion, the statement may not be that helpful. In other words, you should care more about what the doctor says you can or cannot do as opposed to saying you’re disabled.
3) Social Security Administration determines if you are disabled. Not the doctor. The doctor’s medical records should support your medical condition. The treatment, testing, evaluation, and treatment plan should support your claim you are disabled.
4) You doctor may say you are not disabled. What are you going to do then? You have been stressing your doctor about writing a statement and then ‘BOOM’, they put a statement in your file that says they don’t believe you are not disabled. Now what?
The important part of the process is the fact you are getting medical treatment. Don’t stress if your doctor won’t say you are or are not disability. Just make sure they are actively documenting your conditions and giving you the best care possible.
I know this sounds like an overly simplified concept but you would be surprised the number of times people fail to do tell their doctors things. When you are applying for disability benefits, even the smallest things may have a significant impact on your case:
- Tell your doctor if something is not working
So you walk into your appointment with your doctor and your doctor gives you a laundry list of things the doctor wants you to do in order for you to feel better. When you walk out that door, whether you believe it or not, you have homework. You need to monitor whether the treatment is working. The doctor is not going to follow you around everyday to confirm if the treatment works. It’s up to you to let the doctor know.
2. Tell your doctor about changes in your medical condition
Your doctor can, only, treat you based on what the doctor knows. So, if you have a new condition or your condition worsens, it’s up to you to let the doctor know about any changes in your medical conditions.
3. Tell your doctor about the impact of your medications
You would be surprised the number of times people don’t tell their doctors that the medications they are taking is causing them problems. Ask about the side effects. Pay attention to the side effects. When do they happen? How bad do they get? How long do they last? And, most importantly, TELL your doctor so they know.
4. Do what your doctor says
As I stated above, your doctor can only treat you based on what they know. Once they do that, you need to follow their treatment plan because they are trying to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Remember, when you are applying for Social Security Disability, you aren’t just filling out an application and then sitting back and waiting for everything to happen. You have the burden of proving you are disabled. So, get to it!
If you read any of my posts or watched any of my videos, you will hear me routinely say ‘applying for disability is a marathon, not a sprint’. In other words, it’s a long process. I know it’s easy for me to say those words but it’s not easy for the person whose life seems to be on hold as they wait for SSA to make a decision about their case.
On occasion, I am asked ‘what can I do while I am waiting on a disability decision?’. No one is asking you to sit in a corner like a vegetable but there are some things you can do while you are waiting:
1) Keep getting or looking for medical treatment
Remember, YOU are the one who has to prove you are disabled. It’s important that you do what you can to get into medical treatment and stay in treatment.
2) Document how your condition affects you
You are possibly going to be in the disability process for a while and you may not remember how your condition affects you a year in the past. More importantly, if you believe your condition is getting worse, you need to be able to let SSA know HOW your condition is getting worse.
3) Let SSA know about changes in where you live
SSA is a federal program so your application follows you. It’s important you let SSA know if you decide to move so they can make sure they keep you up to date on your application
4) Be prepared to explain your circumstances to SSA if you try to work
This part is the hardest because people spend a lot of time worrying if returning to work will have an impact on their disability case. The reality is that if you work, your earnings are reported to the government so they will know anyway. The important part is to pay attention to how you are able to handle going back to work.
5) Do what your doctors tell you to do
SSA pays very close attention to whether you are doing what your doctor tells you to do. Failure to follow medical treatment is something SSA strongly considers so you need to make every effort to do what your doctor tells you.
I know this process is long and frustrating but it is important that you don’t do anything that might hurt your case in the long run.
I know you don’t want to hear that from me. I totally understand. You’re disabled. You’re in a tough spot. You’ve worked hard for your benefits. Your life is going crazy right now. And the last thing you want to hear is some attorney talking about ‘don’t make excuses, make an effort’.
You’re right. I don’t know what you’re going through so I know it doesn’t seem fair for me to come at you like this but i’m doing this for a reason. I want to do everything I can to give you a fighting chance. If you truly need disability benefits, I need to be straight forward with you about a few things:
1) Don’t make excuses
I have said this a million times. YOU have to prove you’re disabled. You can’t just make an application and think you’re going to get disability benefits just like that. You have to PROVE you’re disabled.
2) Applying is ONLY the beginning
Once you apply, you need to be proactive in your case. Make sure you take time to complete the forms they send. Tell your doctors you are applying. Make sure you get the treatment you need to prove your case. I know you can’t work but applying for benefits takes effort and you need to be prepared to make that effort.
3) Find ANSWERS to your EXCUSES
So you can’t find a doctor. Have you looked everywhere? Have you contacted the health department? Have you looked for free clinics? Have you applied for OBAMACARE? So, you can’t afford a doctor’s appointment. What are you spending your money on? Are you smoking? Can you use that money for a doctor’s visit? So, you can’t afford medications. Have you asked about medication plans? Have you asked CVS, Walgreen, Eckerds or any other pharmacy if they have any discount programs? Have you asked Wal-Mart or your local grocery store if they have any plans? Instead of accepting your circumstances, have you tried to figure how to work around them?
4) NOBODY cares about your case as much as you do, so ACT LIKE IT!
Stop going into the process like you are entitled to receive disability. You are only entitled to apply if you’re eligible. Once you apply, you have show the government that you should receive benefits. So, that means you need to do whatever you can to prove it.
5) IF you don’t know what to do, ask for help
Look, there are two organizations out there that help persons with disability benefits: National Organization of Social Security Representatives and National Association of Disability Representatives. Don’t muddle around the process if you don’t understand it. Get help.
I know this post may be harsh to some people but you need to understand. This process is not designed to beat you down. However, it is a process. Stop sitting on the sideline waiting to be given something and get out there show the government you are truly disabled.
First, take a second and breath. These forms are necessary for the development of your case and necessary to determine if you are disabled. Here’s why:
1) Social Security Administration does not live with you.
I know this is an odd thing to say but I have to remind people that SSA does not live with you. They don’t have the benefit of seeing you every day in order to have the benefit of evaluating your medical condition or witnessing how your medical condition may affect you. So, this is your opportunity to give SSA a detailed description of the impact of your condition.
2) They are looking for consistency with what you have said
You may not realize it but you fill out so many forms, SSA is reviewing those forms to determine if what you are saying is consistent. They want to ensure that what you are saying is consistent with what you have said before about your condition.
3) They are looking for consistency with what others have said
Some of these forms are, also, sent to your friends or loved ones. SSA wants to review the responses to see if what they are saying is consistent with what you have been saying about the limitations of your condition.
4) They are looking for consistency with your medical records
This part is important because people have a tendency to exaggerate their limitations. So, SSA is going to review your medical records to determine if the problems you are saying that you have are consistent with the evidence in your medical records.
I know all of these forms seem like a pain but they truly are designed for a greater purpose. Make sure you take the time to carefully fill the forms so SSA can have an accurate picture of your situation.