Saturday, November 27, 2010
Why You Must Know as Much as You Can About Social Security Disability
Chances are if you are reading this you already realize the importance of learning as much as you can about Social Security disability, and how they will answer the question "are you disabled". Some of you may hire a lawyer so you do not have to try and learn something as complex as Social Security disability law. This is understandable for some of you who have disabilities that prevent them from being able to take on such a task. However, for those of you who are able even if you have a lawyer you should read and become as knowledgeable as you can on SSDI or SSI. How deep your research goes will depend on your ability to retain the information, and be able to apply that information to your particular case. You might be asking: isn't that why I hire a lawyer? Yes, but I will give you a couple of reasons why you should still do your best to know as much as you can about Social Security disability law. First, many Social Security disability lawyers are extremely good at what they do, but even the best lawyers can not know exactly what you are going through and how your particular medical condition is affecting you as an individual. Lawyers know how certain medical conditions affect people and they know how to use that information to present your case. However, just because two people suffer from the same medical diagnosis does not mean they have the same limitations and symptoms as each other. In other words, no one knows your condition as well as you do. If you know even the basics of how your claim will be handled by your lawyer you will be able to help the attorney present your case in a way that gives you the best chance to win. I will give you an example from my case I had not too long ago in front of a particularly difficult judge. My claimant had a rare visual medical condition that did not fit neatly into the Social Security disability guidelines to be found disabled. The claimant did not meet or equal the listing from any of her visual tests, so we had to show that this person could not even perform the simplest of work. The claimant had read a piece I had written on the Internet about keeping a diary and the importance of being able to explain exactly how your medical condition limits you in day to day activities. After going through all of my clients medical records and speaking to my client for over an hour the claimant handed me a notebook where my client would write down a sentence or two each day about the difficulties of my client's vision from day-to-day. I noticed almost every day it was noted this person had double vision lasting hours. I confirmed with the treating doctor that this was one of the side effects of her condition. The doctor then wrote up a report explaining it was his opinion that the patient experienced double vision at least six hours a day and that this was very common for people with this medical condition. On the day of the hearing, the ALJ asked the typical questions about visual acuity and peripheral vision. The ALJ then presented a hypothetical to the vocational expert with the limitations that the eye test showed. As I expected, the vocational expert came up with quite a few jobs my claimant could do. It was now my turn to present my hypothetical to the vocational expert. I asked the vocational expert and the judge to cross their eyes. I then asked the vocational expert if this was an individuals vision for six hours a day would there be any work this person could do. The answer was no and the ALJ, with the treating doctors report as part of the file, had no choice but to find the claimant disabled. As you can see in this example, because the claimant read my article on the Internet that told people to keep a diary and the claimant did it, I had the information I needed to come up with a creative way to present my claimant's case to the ALJ which in turn led to a favorable decision. Another reason it is important to be as knowledgeable about SSD and SSI as you can is so that you will know whether the lawyer you are considering hiring is the one that gives you the best chance to win. You will have the confidence to ask questions and ask how he or she plans to pursue your case. Lastly, if you know what you have to prove, and what evidence you need to do so, you can get that information if you don't have a lawyer or help the lawyer get the information that is needed to win your claim, without having to wait for instructions from the attorney who probably has many clients. It is important to remember that if you have a lawyer never send anything into Social Security without your lawyer seeing it first, because no matter how much you have researched if you have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer they will still know the law better than you. I hope all of you who have claims pending have a favorable outcome in the near future.