Top 5 Mistakes That Social Security Applicants Make
At McCroskey Law, we have represented disabled workers and Social Security applicants for over 60 years. Our attorneys have extensive experience, and have reviewed countless Social Security and SSI files. Unfortunately, we see some very common mistakes, which can easily be avoided.1. Avoiding Your Doctors
We realize that it can be difficult for our disabled clients to receive consistent medical care. Without income, you may be forced to make tough choices between paying your daily bills and seeing your doctors. But, without medical evidence, it is very difficult to win a Social Security disabilty or SSI case. If you need a list of low-cost community medical clinics, click here.
It as just as important, however, to make sure that your doctors understand your symptoms and limitations. If you're not "fine", don't tell the doctor you are. If you're suffering from negative medication side effects, tell your doctor.
Why is open communication between you and your doctor? First, it will allow your doctor to understand your problems better-- which will hopefully lead to better treatment. Second, the Social Security Administration will review your medical records-- and will look to see if the symptoms reported in your claim are similar to those in the medical records. Consistent and accurate medical records will help your chances of winning your Social Security disability and SSI claims.2. Not Taking Your Medications as Prescribed
Sometimes, a client will stop taking medications because they feel better. Unfortunately, short-term improvement does not mean that a condition is cured. Your symptoms may come back, or become worse, if you stop taking medications without a doctor's approval.
If you stop taking your medications against doctor's orders, you may hurt your Social Security claim. This is particularly important in cases involving mental health, breathing-related conditions, seizure disorders, or a progressive disease like MS or rheumatoid arthritis. If you are concerned about negative side effects from a medication, contact your doctor immediately. If a doctor suggests that you stop a medication, follow his advice.
On the other hand, do not take more medication than prescribed. If your medical records document a pattern of drug-seeking behavior, this can seriously hurt your case. If you medications aren't effective, talk to your doctors about other options.3. Minimizing or Exaggerating Your Limitations
A lot of our clients would rather be working and living their "normal" lives. And, a lot of our clients would rather not admit to themselves that they can't do the things they love. However, it is important that you explain what you can and cannot do to Social Security.
When you complete forms for the Social Security Administration, tell them about your ability to function today. If you cannot do a hobby or an activity, do not list this as something you do. On the other hand, do not exaggerate your limitations either. When Social Security reviews your disability or SSI application, your reported daily activities are considered. If you over or under-state your problems, this can count against you.4. Failing to List All Your Serious Health Conditions
Under Social Security's rules, the Administration must consider you as a whole person. In other words, they must look at all of your severe health problems when determining whether you are disabled.
Unfortunately, Social Security disability and SSI applicants often list only their worst health condition. Without a full list of physical and mental health conditions, as well as a complete list of your medical and mental health providers, Social Security cannot properly evaluate your claim.5. Hiring a Non-Attorney or National Law Firm
Your Social Security claim is important, and you deserve the best representation possible. Unfortunately, non-attorneys can represent claimants at the Social Security hearing level. These individuals do not have the same training as a licensed attorney, but charge the same fee structure.
We also talk to a lot of Social Security disability and SSI claimants who initially hired a national firm to represent them. These firms rarely provide the one-on-one care and representation of an experienced, local attorney. They rarely know the local judges and doctors as well as an experienced, local attorney. They also are more likely to terminate representation, or switch a client's attorney without warning.
At McCroskey Law, we provide our Social Security disability and SSI clients with personalized legal representation. With offices in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek, our attorneys are ready to meet with you face-to-face to evaluate your claim. We can guide you through the Social Security claims process-- from application to appeals. Contact us today for a free consultation.