Q: Can you lie to get Social Security Disability benefits?
A: This question gets to the heart of the misunderstanding about the Social Security Disability program. Anyone can lie about anything to anyone. The real question, then, is whether lying can actually secure Social Security Disability benefits. The short answer: No.
The public at large is generally unaware about the level of medical evidence necessary to prove disability under the Social Security regulations. Just having a physical or mental diagnosis is insufficient. Your limitations must preclude your ability to work under the law. The law does not allow mere “claims” of disability to prove limitations. Medical testing and examinations over time must establish significant impairments.
Lying to an MRI won’t impact the results. Lying to a physician will not change objective examination findings. Lying to a psychiatrist will likely land you back in the waiting room. You can try to fake a limp or fabricate headaches, but medical doctors are scientists. The lack of objective detail will ultimately do you in.
So just how difficult is it to “talk” your way into benefits? Let’s consider a real life example of a client of mine today who wasn’t lying about anxiety, but nonetheless will be denied benefits. I had a Social Security hearing today in which my client had significant anxiety. The lower State Agency level ignored the regulations in failing to get a treating source opinion (nothing new). A government-paid “medical expert” at my client’s hearing droned on and on to use time, yet misread the file, inferred chemical dependency without a diagnosis, ignored hard evidence of disability from a psychiatrist, and missed another psychological diagnosis altogether. The point? Even people telling the truth with sufficient evidence (in this case, anxiety that left her virtually homebound) have a difficult time meeting Social Security’s regulatory standards.
What should you take from this blog? Those who are approved for Social Security Disability benefits have medical professionals who have diagnosed, examined, and treated them over time. Offer to open the door for them, not throw them under the bus. You or a loved one could need these benefits next.
Andrew Kinney, Esq.