Guidelines for Winning Your Social Security Disability Claim Hearing(continued)
Be Aware of All Time Limits.
You only have 60 days to appeal denials of your social security disability claim and failure to do so can result in your losing time and possible benefits. But don’t give up if you miss a deadline! There are a variety of ways to reopen prior claims and we can assess which might apply in your situation.
Follow Doctors’ Orders.
Make sure you follow doctors’ recommendations or explain why you are unable to do so. Failure of a person comply with doctors’ orders can raise doubts so if you can’t we will definitely have to be sure the Judge knows why.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse.
A social security disability claim case can be complicated if there is drug or alcohol abuse. However, many people use such substances and that fact alone is not enough to deny a case. Often, such use is in response to a medical condition and not the cause of it. SSA just recently issued clarifying rules to the Judges and others stating that denial just because of drug or alcohol use alone is not appropriate. It must be proven to be material to the disability. If this might apply in your case, we can discuss this further in private when we talk.
Prepare Thoroughly for the Social Security Disability Hearing.
We will need to review your total social security disability claim in detail before the hearing. Much of the evidence can be records that are years old and your memory will need to be refreshed. That is why I often find personal logs or journals helpful to claimants. Prior to the hearing, I will tell you what you can expect from the Judge on your case.
At the hearing, tell the truth. Judges are used to people exaggerating their disability claims and when that happens it negatively affects the case. But be specific, and I will help you in that regard with good preparation. For instance, if you have good days and bad days, you need to explain what they are like in detail. I can’t tell you how many times a person has described their day as such: “I don’t do anything all day.” We all do something every day, even if it is only to roll over in bed. So be specific and detailed or it may look like you are trying to avoid giving information.
Don’t come to the social security disability claim hearing with medical devices you have not really used. For instance, don’t show up in a wheelchair if you really can walk. Don’t put on splints, back brace, neck brace, or other such devices that you rarely if ever use. The Judge will check the records to see if you have been using them. In one case, a gentleman showed up at a hearing with a cane, even though nothing in the record showed that he had ever needed to use one. Questioning revealed that he had “borrowed” his mother’s cane! We wonder how she fared that day. The really amazing part is his representative let him try such a charade. So, if you are my client, be honest and we will be able to tell the whole story to the Judge in a convincing manner.