This is the first in a “mini-series” we are putting out to let you know Seven Action items to focus on if you want to be successful in winning benefits at your Social Security Disability (or SSI) hearing.
If you are reading this post you are likely waiting for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. That means that Social Security has denied your claim at the Initial and possibly Reconsideration stage, depending on the state where you live. Many people want to know what things they must do to prepare well for the hearing. The first action item is to continue to see your doctors, clearly express your problems to them, make sure they understand what your symptoms are, and make sure you follow their advice. The judge must evaluate the evidence in your case. The most important evidence is found in your medical records.
What is evidence?
Evidence is any information that tends to prove or disprove an issue or fact in a case. In disability cases, the issues often revolve around the severity of your symptoms. What ailments do you have? Are these problems properly diagnosed by a doctor or nurse practitioner? What are your symptoms and how severe are they? What treatments have you tried? Did they help? How limited are you physically or mentally? The answers to these questions are most often found in your medical records. The doctors and nurses write lots of things down, including how severe your pain or other symptoms appear to be.
Tell your attorney about all your medical treatments, and keep the law office informed so they can gather those records.
One of the most important things that you can do to prepare for your hearing is to visit your doctors on a regular basis, make sure you tell them how your symptoms are interfering with your life, and comply with their instructions. It is very important that you follow the recommendations and advice of your doctors. If you don't, judges may find that your non-compliance with the doctor’s orders contributes to your disability. They may also find that a lack of treatment leaves them with insufficient evidence to show that you are disabled under the law. Of course every case is different and some people have a very good reason for not following the advice of their doctors. But remember the judge is evaluating evidence (your medical records). If you are not visiting your doctors, then the judge doesn’t have any evidence to review!