Social Security (SS) already has all my information
Just because you applied before or were on benefits years ago, does not mean that SS has kept and/or will be able to find all the old information you gave them. The federal government does not have access to your private information (like your medical records, birth certificates or other documents filed in the county where you live, etc.) If you don’t tell the local SS District Office (DO) the names & addresses of your doctors, they can’t “look it up.” It isn’t good enough to say, Dr. Jonesâ€¦you know the one over there off of Main Street across from the mall.” Just because you answered questions about your medical conditions, limitations, doctors and jobs when you applied with the DO, does not mean you don’t have to answer those questions on the forms your Disability Examiner (DE) at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) sent you. Last, SS (either the DO or the DE) will usually only document calls they make to you, not all the calls you make to them.
I know someone on SS and he/she isn’t even disabled!
Most disabilities are not visible. Think about it. Can you see diabetes, illiteracy, bipolar, a herniated disc? Most people who are disabled are also hiding their medical problems from the rest of the world. Because every disabled person has a different set of circumstances (age, past work history, medical problems, skills, prognosis, etc.) you cannot compare your situation to someone else.
SS is supposed to get all my medical records.
At the initial and reconsideration levels, the DE at DDS will request your medical records if you have identified your doctors to SS. But they only go back one year from the date you applied. And just because they request the records, doesn’t mean doctors will provide them. Once you are waiting for a hearing (which could take up to a year) SS does not ask any doctors for your records.
SS is supposed toâ€¦ (make a decision, send my file to DDS, get my records, review the consultative examination report, follow up with requests for r
Just because someone at SS told you that certain things should happen within a certain time frame don’t mean it will. SS has no deadlines. Once you appeal a denial SS can take all the time they want to make a decision. Even the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Hearings and Appeals (ODAR) has no real deadline. Of course, SS does monitor “average processing times” and is always trying to make them better. Bu Congress has not required them to get their work finished within a deadline.
Ii I hire a lawyer, I will win my case quickly.
SS does not reshuffle their workload to give represented claimants priority. SS is going to take as long as they are going to take. But there are situations (dire need) that may cause SS to give your case priority. Those situations are: homelessness, terminal illness, suicidal, etc. A representative can either assist SS or slow them down. When shopping for a representative you should ask: • How long do you wait before you appeal my case? • Do you submit information to SS by mail or electronically? • How often do you request medical records? • Will you write a brief while I am waiting for my hearing? • If I am in a dire need status, will you help me get that information to SS? o Will you follow up on my dire need request and keep me informed?
I haven’t heard anything from SS in a long time. I guess they are still working on it.
You must keep SS well informed of your whereabouts. If you move, change your phone number, disconnect your phone or run out of minutes on your cell phone you should go in person to your local DO and give them new contact information in writing. Even if you complete a change of address card at the US Post office, you still need to tell SS about these changes. Even if your e-mail address has not changed, you should do this. SS does ask you for your e-mail address when you apply, but they don’t really use it. Remember, your information is private and confidential and SS cannot verify who will read an e-mail to you. If you are shopping for a representative, you should ask them if and how they keep SS informed of your whereabouts. If you hire a representative, you should also keep them informed, too. If you don’t do this, SS may deny your claim, mail the denial to an old address and you may miss your 60 day deadline to appeal.
I don’t have to see a doctor regularly.
SS must have medical evidence to find you disabled. You can’t just tell them about migraine headaches without a doctor’s diagnosis of the condition (and expect to win). And if you end up in the emergency room (ER) a lot, that won’t necessarily help either. In fact, it may show that you are not doing what you should be doing to stay well. SS benefits are for disabled people, not people who don’t want to see a doctor, take pills, get shots or who don’t have a car to drive to a doctor’s office. If SS sends you to see a doctor for a consultative examination (CE) that does not mean that you have been to a doctor for treatment. A one-time visit will provide some information about your condition, but usually not enough to meet the criteria for disability. SS usually does not send that doctor all of your medical records to review either. Even if SS gets 100 pages from your doctor, they may only send 5 to the CE. If you really want to win, seek treatment.
My medical records will show I am disabled
SS needs to know what your medical conditions are and how they affect you. For instance, if you have arthritis, does it affect your ability to handle objects, walk around, etc? Doctors don’t usually document your abilities and limitations. Doctors will document what they find when they examine you (hot or swollen joints, limited range of motion of the joint, visible deformity). How these findings translate to what you can do and what you cannot do is subject to interpretation. If your doctor provides an opinion statement about what you can and cannot do, and that opinion is well supported by the medical records, you have a better chance of winning your case.
I can call the SS 1-800 number to check on my lawyer.
SS does not have an automated system that follows your case as it goes from the local DO to DDS to ODAR. Whatever information the 1-800 number staff has, depends on whatever data entry has been made at each appeal level. SS is working on a fully automated, paperless and efficient system. But there is still a long way to go and a lot of privacy issues to iron out. Before you hire a lawyer, you should ask these questions to make sure you will be well informed about your case: • How often will you contact me to tell me what is happening on my case? • How do you know that SS has received what you send them? • Will you regularly send me proof that you have forwarded my paperwork to SS?
I can/can’t work and still be found disabled.
SS benefits are for people who cannot work full time (5 days a week, 8 hours a day) because of their medical impairments. Working part time or at a lower pay scale may show SS that you are able to work part time only and are therefore disabled. But it may also show the opposite. There is no way to answer this question without a full review of your circumstances. If someone tells you, you can safely work at “under SGA” be very skeptical of that advice.