The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers many factors when deciding whether or not to grant disability benefits, including your testimony, the findings of their doctors, the opinions of vocational (job placement) experts, and more.
The most important factor the SSA considers is the content of your medical records.
Why Are Medical Records So Important to the SSA?
Although the SSA does consider the combination of many kinds of evidence, they place weight on your medical records. These records are created and maintained by your doctors.
Make sure to see your own doctors regularly, follow their medical advice, and keep them updated about your symptoms and how they are limiting.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
Satisfying the SSA’s Requirements for Medical Documentation
When you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), keeping up-to-date medical records is important. Consider the following actions that can help you fulfill the SSA’s requirements for medical documentation.
Seek a Primary Care Physician and a Specialist
The SSA may send you to see one of its own doctors for an evaluation one or more times during the course of your case. You should not rely on the SSA’s appointed doctors to provide all of the medical evidence for your case, though.
To build a strong case for Social Security Disability benefits, you should see your own doctors regularly before you file your application. Continue seeing them throughout the course of your disability claim and after the SSA has granted you benefits. You should start with a family doctor, such as a primary care physician (PCP), who can refer you to the appropriate specialists to help treat your conditions.
For example, your PCP can refer you to a psychiatrist and therapist or counselor for mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Your PCP can also refer you to a rheumatologist for fibromyalgia, an endocrinologist for diabetes, or an orthopedic specialist for pain management and back problems.
Keep Your Appointments
You should schedule appointments with your doctors as often as they recommend. Be sure to keep these appointments or reschedule them if necessary. Missed appointments can give a Disability Determination Services representative the impression that you are not complying with your treatment.
Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan
You should comply with any medical advice your doctors give you, such as:
- Prescribed medication
- Seeing referred specialists
- Undergoing medical testing
- Dietary and lifestyle changes or restrictions
If you have concerns regarding your doctor’s advice, you should discuss this with your doctor and seek a second opinion. If you simply disregard your doctor’s advice and do not discuss it with the doctor or seek a second opinion, this could harm your case.
Ask for Referrals From Your Doctor
Sometimes, a doctor may tell you that they don’t feel your condition is going to improve with further treatment. If this happens, ask the doctor if there is anyone else they can refer you to. If they don’t refer you to anyone else, ask for occasional appointments with this doctor, perhaps two or three times a year.
This way, the doctor can examine you and document that your condition has not improved. You can also seek a second opinion. If you cease seeing doctors, even at your doctor’s own advice, the SSA may deny you benefits.
Tell Your Doctor If You Experience Any Side Effects From Your Medication
If you are experiencing side effects from medications your doctor has prescribed, you should report this to them immediately. Wait for your doctor’s guidance on how to proceed, as it can be dangerous to discontinue medications without their supervision.
If you are having trouble affording prescribed medication, specialists, or medical testing, discuss this with your doctor. They may:
- Prescribe an affordable alternative
- Contact your medical insurance
- Suggest programs that could assist you
Keep Your Doctor Up to Date
Finally, you should keep your doctors updated about all the symptoms you are experiencing. Between appointments, call your doctor’s office to report any current symptoms that have worsened or any new symptoms that develop. Make a note so that you do not forget to tell your doctor during your next appointment.
Always call your doctor immediately or go to the hospital if you develop any severe or potentially life-threatening symptoms. Report all of your symptoms, even if it feels like you are repeating yourself.
For example, if you see the doctor for back pain and your symptoms continue, mention it again at your next visit. If you don’t, your doctor may think your condition has improved, and a Disability Determination Services representative may use this to deny your claim.
What If You Receive a Denial of Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you receive a denial of SSI or SSDI benefits, you can appeal this decision. The Social Security Disability lawyers can help you file your appeal.
We can guide you through every step of appealing a benefits denial.
Filing a Request for Reconsideration
First, we can request a reconsideration of your claim with the original department that issued the denial. If it upholds the initial decision, we can move to the next step.
Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
We can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). We will gather all medical evidence for your claim at this time and represent you at your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Request a Review By the Appeals Council
If the ALJ upholds the denial of benefits, we can ask for a review with the Appeals Council. This department will consider whether the ALJ upheld the Social Security laws and regulations when deciding your case.
Request a Federal Court Review
Finally, we can request a review of your case in Federal Court. When we handle your case, we can take care of all the necessary paperwork and represent you during the proceedings.
Berger and Green Can Help You Fight for Disability Benefits
Your complete medical history is key to a successful outcome in your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
Our Social Security Disability lawyers can ensure the SSA has the appropriate information about the applicant’s medical providers. We can also help you apply for benefits and appeal a denial of benefits. Call Berger and Green at (412) 661-1400.