Monthly Update — Social Security

Proving your case
By: Jennifer Scherff Jennifer Scherff

Over and over I am asked why it is so hard to get on disability. That is usually followed up with, “so and so down the street got on it and there is nothing wrong with him/her.”

Race, sex, marital status or the number of children you have are not factors used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when determining your disability despite what many people think. The reason that it is so hard to get onto disability is because you must prove that you are disabled. Many think SSA has the burden of proving that you are not disabled, but this is not correct.

You must have the medical documents to support your complaints. Having a diagnosis is not enough to be found disabled, no matter how serious the diagnoses are. People can recover from almost every condition to a point that they can work in some capacity. It is the severity of the symptoms, not the diagnosis, that you must show SSA. The difference between someone lying about pain trying to get disability and the person who genuinely cannot work due to pain is the medical records showing a cause of the pain and notes from your doctors supporting what you say you are experiencing.

What to do:

  1. Go see a doctor and do what he or she asks. If you doctor says to test your blood sugar two times a day, do so. If you are referred to a rheumatologist or an orthopedic surgeon, keep the appointment. Take the medications you are prescribed. If you doctor tells you to follow a specific diet or stop smoking, do your best. You cannot refuse to try and get better and expect to get onto disability. If you can do something to help your condition and you refuse to do it, you are not disabled.
  2. Develop the medical records. Get tests done, see your doctor regularly and make sure you let him or her know everything you are experiencing so the notes reflect it. If your back hurts, get an MRI; if you feel dizzy, you need to have a cause.
  3. Keep working at proving your condition and how severely it is impacting your ability to work. An experienced attorney can help you get this information from you doctor(s) through questionnaires and forms, and by advising you what you should discuss with your doctors.

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