Q & A with 25-year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney
Q: What are the main factors to help me win my Social Security Disability hearing?
A: There are 4: Your judge, your facts, your testimony, and your lawyer. The first two factors are discussed below.
Q: What can I do about my judge (ALJ) for my Social Security Disability claim?
A: Nothing. Once a judge in your region is randomly assigned to your Social Security hearing, even if you move, you must work with the one you have. You can, however, ask your Social Security lawyer about the tendencies your judge has based on the kind of facts your claim presents. Good legal argument aligns with your judge’s tendencies.
Q: What can I do about the facts of my Social Security claim?
A: The facts of your medical conditions are only as supportive as how much they limit you and how well your providers document them. Follow your doctor’s advice, but if your medical problems allow you to keep working part-time or more, you may wish to delay an application for Social Security Disability and keep working (you should also speak with a Social Security lawyer about this decision depending on your monthly gross income).
If, however, your medical problems prevent you from working part-time or more, the quality of your treatment counts. Here are some guidelines:
(1) Treat with physicians regularly, and with specialists when necessary.
(2) Add treatment from a licensed psychologist to your mental health treatment.
(3) Make sure your providers spend adequate time listening to you at your appointments (the sign of a good provider).
(4) Track that your providers perform physical examinations (or mental status examinations) at each appointment when necessary.
(5) Check your medical records from time to time (perhaps every 6 months) to make sure your symptoms and your doctor’s findings have detailed information that is accurate about your problems.
(6) Ask your providers if any imaging or testing would help them better understand and treat your medical problems.
(7) Keep track of your medical treatment in writing and make sure to tell your Social Security lawyers about all places you have treated (so they can request copies of your treatment records for the relevant timeframes at least two months before your Social Security hearing).
(8) Ask your doctor and/or psychologist who knows you best if you should work part-time or more. If not, ask that your doctor or psychologist to be clear in their treatment notes about how you are limited. Also, ask if he or she would be willing to complete an opinion form about your ability to work in the future. Contact your Social Security lawyer about those willing to do so immediately.
Your testimony and lawyer, the other two key factors to win your Social Security Disability claim, are discussed in Part 2 of this series.