How To Win Your
Disability Claim!
Lesson 3
Learn How To Maximize Your Chances of Winning 
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This lesson is designed to help you communicate with the Social Security Administration employees regardless of where you are in the claims process.  As you begin the Social Security disability application process, you will want to start a file that contains the following information:

1. Your complete and accurate job history. Social Security will ask you to identify and describe in detail each and every job you have performed over the past 15 years (Job History Report - Form SSA-3369-BK). 

During the course of your application process, Social Security will ask you for this same information three or more times in different forms. You can save yourself a lot of aggravation and provide consistent answers by creating your job history file early on in the process.

 2. Your complete and comprehensive medical history. At a minimum, your medical history file should contain the name, address, and phone number of each and every doctor, hospital, emergency room, clinic or other health care provider you have seen, including the dates of office visits and treatment for as far back as you can remember.

 While Social Security will be most concerned about doctors who have treated you for your disabling conditions, do not assume that older medical history is not relevant.

More often than you might think, a claimant ends up at a hearing only to find that his Social Security claims file is missing the records from one or more doctors. Judges hate this. It can result in a delay to the decision making process. 

Here are a couple of tips that might help:

TIP #1: Don't forget to include on your list the name of doctors you may have seen only once or twice.

Tip #2: If you are having trouble remembering the names of all of your doctors, ask your current or past primary doctor's office for help. Frequently physicians who see you for a one time visit will send a report of that visit to your primary treating physician.

Thus, a current or past doctor who you saw regularly may have the  name and address of other doctors who you saw only once or twice.

Tip #3: It is a good idea to keep your own medical records file. Most doctors' offices and hospitals will provide you with a copy of your records for free or at a reduced cost if you want it for the purpose of completing a disability application.

Tip #4: Read the denial notices sent to you from Social Security. Included in each denial notice is a list of the medical records, sorted by doctor, used to make the decision. If one or more doctors or hospitals are not listed, collect these records and send them to Social Security.

Tip #5: Get you report from M.I.B. (Medical Information Bureau) report. An M.I.B. report is similar to a credit report and may provide helpful information about past medical providers. M.I.B. reports are used by insurance companies to determine insurability. Most people don't know this, but you can request your M.I.B online or by phone here.

3. Create and maintain a medications list. This should be an on-going list, because you will need to reference both past medications and medicines that you currently take. Keep track of both prescription and non-prescription drugs. You can usually get a list of all prescriptions free of charge from your pharmacist. You will find the medications list form used by Social Security and instructions about how to fill it out in the  Disability Answer Guide at Form HA-4632.

4. Start and maintain a pain and symptom diary. Remember, the Social Security disability process can take up to two years. In two years, you will not remember how you are feeling now.

Your pain and symptom diary can be something as simple as a drug store calendar in which you make brief daily notes about how you feel. Or you can use a spiral notebook where you keep an actual diary. If your case goes to a hearing and you are asked about your pain level from two years ago, your testimony will be much more compelling if you can bring up specific incidents and give details.

The reason you are providing all of this information to a Social Security employee is to permit that employee to request records and documents from your doctors, former employers and other people who may have useful information.

Mr. Jonathan Ginsberg, an experienced disability attorney, always recommends to his clients that they keep their own file of this  information. Realize that when your case is over, Social Security will not send you your file - in fact, after a decision is made, your file will probably be shipped out of state never to be seen again.

Secondly, Social Security employees have very limited time to follow up on information requests. In Mr. Ginsberg's law practice, he ends up providing records (sometimes the entire file) to the Social Security claims adjustor. Just because you have given them the names and addresses of your doctors and employers, don't assume they will follow up.

More importantly, Social Security employees will not ask the right questions of your doctors. Remember, in the first installment of this series, we taught you that work capacity was the most important element of proving your claim. Mr. Gingsberg uses forms called residual functional capacity evaluation forms to help doctors translate medical findings into the specific work limitations that Social Security decision makers need. (In case you were wondering, Mr. Ginsberg includes both a mental and a physical functional capacity form in the Disability Answer Guide book along with suggested answers to these forms that he's used to win  hundreds of cases in his practice).

That's it for lesson 3. Next,  we'll discuss how to win your case early on in the process.

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Brian Therrien

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