Here’s What You Should Do Now That You’ve Filed Your Social Security Disability Claim

Keep Track of Challenges you Have During the Day

You’ve filed for Social Security Disability (or SSI) because you’re unable to work due to an injury or illness.  Great job!  But now what can you do to set yourself up of the best possible chance of success?  

Here are four things to do for anyone who has filed a social security disability claim.


Keep Going to the Doctor

 

It’s incredibly important that you continue to go to all scheduled medical appointments.  If the Social Security Administration determines that you aren’t going to regularly scheduled appointments, while they’re evaluating your disability claim, they may decide against your claim on the basis that IF you did go to the doctor your impairments would be manageable.  And thus, you would be able to seek, obtain, and maintain employment (or other substantially gainful activity).

Going to appointments can be difficult, depending on your conditions.  If you find it difficult to maintain a schedule of medical appointments you should make sure to note this.  Better, even than keeping personal records on this though, is retaining an advocate and making sure they know how difficult it is for you to attend your medical appointments.   They may be able to secure some accommodations and/or they may be able to communicate your challenges effectively to the Social Security Administration.

 

Maintain Good Records of Any and All Hospital Visits

 

In a perfect world, everyone who needs access (and has permission to access) your medical records, would do so prior to making a decision that impacts you.  However, it’s not a perfect world, and one of the most common goofs on disability claim decisions occurs when the adjudicator makes a decision without all the evidence they should have.   Sometimes, a big piece of the pie is tracking down what SSA knew, and what they should have known.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason to keep records of visits.  It’s good practice to do so even if everyone is on the same page because you never know when someone might lose a record, claim to have never received it, or claim that you didn’t go to that medical appointment in the first place.

Keeping good records can be as easy as making sure everything goes into a specific folder or box.  Just don’t throw them away!

 

Keep Track of Challenges you Have During the Day

 

At some point, someone is going to want to know what kind of impact your impairments have on your everyday life.  You can sit there across from a judge, or in front of a doctor and try to recall ALL the ways in which you’re affected, or you can rely on the notes you’ve taken in preparation for that question.

This means, take notes.  Keep a journal.  Take pictures, if that’s easier.  Keep a video diary.  Just document your challenges in some way.

This one action helps eliminate the ambiguous understanding (on the part of the SSA) that Social Security Disability claims denials often spring forth from.

 

Consider Discussing your Claim with an Excellent & Local Social Security Disability Lawyer

 

It’s never really too early to start a discussion with an excellent local Social Security Disability Lawyer.  There are several reasons you’d want to do this.

#1) An experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer can give you advice from having gone through this process >1000 times.  This is probably your first time through the process.  If you can get any direct advice or even support, it’s worth your time to reach out for it!

#2) If your claim is denied (it happens far too often) – you have a short turn-around to file an appeal.  Being able to bring in a disability attorney that has already heard the merits of your claim, provided input on them, and that you have a pre-existing relationship with – will help to reduce your stress at a very difficult point.

#3) It’s free.

 

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5 Reasons Social Security Denied Your Disability Claim When Your Doctor Said You Were Disabled

Your Doctor isn’t Necessarily an expert in your ailments

 

If you’re wondering why Social Security denied your disability when your doctor soundly believed that your ailments were disabled…you’re not alone!  That may offer some relief, but now that you’ve been denied (or were denied some time ago), you need to get ready to take another look at your application for social security disability.  

Whether you’re re-applying for disability or filing an appeal with a disability appeal lawyer, you probably want to know what led to the miscommunication or outright disconnect between your doctor and the Social Security Administration.  

To help you with this, we compiled the most common reasons we have noticed that Social Security denied claims against doctors’ opinions – for our social security disability appeal clients in Spokane, WA.  

 

Your Doctor Didn’t know How to Communicate your Disability to Social Security

 

This reason is so common that we should write a whole article for the purpose of talking to doctors about how to communicate with Social Security (and the VA).  The point here is that in almost every case doctors practice medicine, not law.  And while your disability is a medical condition, the benefit – and process of obtaining it – is a very legal process.

Imagine you’re taking your car into a shop because it is misfiring.

You have someone that’s willing to pay for the repairs, but they need to know how it’s misfiring so they give you a form that says, “please describe what’s wrong with the car.”

You show up to the shop and ask the mechanic to fill out the form, and without context, the mechanic looks at the form and examines the car.  On the form the mechanic accurately describes what’s wrong with the car:

“The car’s tires are 40% worn, they need to be rotated. The car needs an oil change.  Windshield wipers need to be replaced.  Rear window is cracked.  Electrical issues – radio doesn’t work.  Transmission needs service.  Car Idles rough.”  

Technically the mechanic answered the questions.  But when you turn the form back in to get the repair $, your benefactor says, “I looked at the mechanics response, the problems with the car are generally superficial and are what you can expect from a 20 year old car, there’s no mention of a misfire, I’m denying your repair”

“Why,” you wonder?  The reason, without context the mechanic had no idea what to focus their report on.  They didn’t necessarily know that you needed to have that one item assessed.  They didn’t know how their report would play into the overall discussion.  Had they known they might have written something to the effect of:

“vehicle has wear and tear in a number of places, however, there is a critical misfiring causing a rough idle and imminent breakdown.”

Both statements are true – but in one the mechanic didn’t have context, and in the second one the mechanic knew the context.

This happens more often than you can believe!  And it’s not only Social Security disability that this occurs in, VA claim denials are famous for this situation. A doctor will describe a constellation of issues, but not focus on the issue that is material to your disability claim.  As such, it can create predictably poor results.

 

Your Doctor (or you) Didn’t Get Your records to Social Security Fast Enough

 

At every step of the Disability Application and Disability Appeal process you are under a ticking clock.  You have timelines you have to hit, and the system will not wait for you.  From the SSA’s (Social Security Administration) perspective, they have tens of thousands of cases to assess and to keep the process moving forward they have to decide or decline by a standard deadline date.

A side note to this reason is that if you missed timelines as a result of a disability of yours, that would be something you’d want to be documented in your reconsideration/appeal.  You might also want to get help in filing those, as you don’t want to have the same problems at that point.  If your doctor missed timelines, that’s going to be something that needs to be addressed too.  A great advocate or local disability lawyer is great for this.

 

Your Doctor Never Even Met You

 

Be honest.. did you show up to your doctor appointment(s)?  Did you know you had doctor appointments?  Were you aware that the SSA might try to get ahold of medical records for the care you received (or sought to receive) on your conditions?  In some cases, applicants have a pattern of not showing up to doctor appointments, even critical doctors appointments set by SSA for the purpose of evaluating your disability.

This is common enough of a problem that we had to cover it.  It also means that you probably need some additional help when you file your new application or appeal.  If you need someone to remind you, provide you transportation, give you motivation and a helping hand – reach out to them and ask for help.   We don’t mind providing reminders either!

 

You Gave Your Doctor Confusing Information

This is in the same arena as the mechanic story above.  If you’re not clear about why you are seeing your doctor, they may not be clear about what you are needing.

Also, confusing statements that appear to contradict your claims occur very often in medical records.  Consider the simple question, “how are you today?”

Do you even think before answering this question?  Most people don’t – it’s become a salutation like, “hi” and “hey.”  You probably get asked some variation of this question at least 4-5 times a day without giving it a second thought.  Here’s the issue…

If you’re filing a claim for Social Security Disability, there is likely some aspect of your health that is not “fine” – “good” – or “grand.”  And you need to be deliberate, honest, and accurate in answering that question and others like it when speaking to a doctor, or a judge.

 

Your Doctor Isn’t Necessarily an Expert in Your Ailments

We use terms like “doctor” or “lawyer” in generic ways.  However, like lawyers, most doctors have specialties.  For instance, a dermatologist has a different specialty than a neurologist. There’s a lot the two will have in common, including a great understanding of medicine.  However, one is far more prepared to give testimony on skin issues whereas another is better for brain issues.

A general practice physician may not be able to provide enough information to declare the limits of your abilities or disabilities if they’re very specific.  Ideally, a specialist can provide a more thorough diagnosis and prognosis.  If your only medical testimony is from a doctor who doesn’t specialize in your challenges, you may be reliant upon the judgment of an adjudicator at the SSA.

 

On That Note…

You probably want to work with someone who knows disability and disability law if you’re in a situation where you have already been denied benefits.  A social security lawyer is different than a family law lawyer, or a tax lawyer, etc.  In this manner, a social security lawyer in Spokane is different than one halfway across the country!  If you’re going to consult a lawyer, make sure they have experience in Social Security Law, and that they are actually located nearby.

 

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How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

 

If you’re looking for a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane, WA or northern Idaho here’s a checklist of five things to consider.

    • Are they actually located in Spokane?
    • Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 
    • Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?
    • Are they an Expert 
    • Are they Approachable?

 

Are they actually located in Spokane?

 

These are perfectly legitimate question to ask any lawyer your considering working with.  Where are you located?  Can I visit you if I have questions?  Can we schedule a time to discuss my case?

It may surprise you to discover that some law firms that advertise in the Spokane area are not from Spokane at all.  In fact, they only rent an office space, just to have a local address.  Shocking, but we covered these types of misdirection in another article, here.

 

Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 

 

One of the biggest benefits to working with a local Social Security lawyer is that you benefit from the connections they’ve made in their work.  It’s very common that someone seeking the help of a Social Security lawyer has other support needs that are a natural handoff to someone who has a robust local network.  An excellent local law firm will have a list of, or at least referrals to, other excellent firms and resources available at request.

 

Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?

 

It’s very important that you consider the commitment a local law firm places in helping you to understand your Social Security claim.  The process of appealing SSI & SSDI denials can be confusing, and it can be frustrating.  A great blog & newsletter might seem small when you’re first looking into representation, but these will be the first places you look when you want to know more about something like a reconsideration denial.

In a not so subtle way, a firm that commits to educating their clients is a firm that will be committed to bringing them along every step of the way.  So…take a look at that blog & newsletter.  See if it helps you understand your situation?  Does the firm demonstrate awareness, understanding and expertise in the way they break down the things you don’t know?

 

Are they an Expert & Are they Approachable?

 

Ok, this is a two-part criteria, but you’re aiming to find someone that is both of these at once.  An expert that is unapproachable is not going to help you understand your claim.  And an approachable novice is a novice nonetheless.

They say there’s no substitute for experience, and it takes time, commitment, and success to gain that experience.

As for approachability, take a look at the videos on the lawyer’s website.  Look at their social media pages, and check out the reviews.  You’ll get a “gut” sense pretty quickly about whether that lawyer is someone you can relate to, trust, and share your story with.

 

How Lilac City Law Stacks Up to this Criteria

Now that you’ve seen our list, take a deeper look at our firm.

 

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Is Social Security the Same As Disability? 

Do you Know the Difference Between Social Security & Disability?

 

Social Security, disability, SSI, & SSDI get confused a lot.  Unless you spend your time working with these terms, it is hard to make sense of which program is for which need.  Here’s a short description of Social Security and Disability benefits.  And an infographic to help you in understanding the differences.  


 

Social Security & SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program through the Social Security Administration (SSA) designed to provide a monetary benefit to Americans who are older than 65, blind, or disabled.  SSI is needs-based, meaning that the beneficiaries must be below a certain asset threshold.  And they must have limited income, and/or income earning potential.

SSI is often paired with Medicaid, administered by individual states.  Recipients of SSI often also qualify for food stamps.

 

Social Security & SSDI 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is similar to an insurance program you might buy into for the contingency that you might become unable to work due to an injury in the future.  In actual fact, it is essentially that – an insurance program.  Though, it’s not really opt-in if you’re employed; you pay (or paid) into it through payroll taxes.

The payout for SSDI is typically higher than SSI, but it requires that you have a relatively recent work history, to base the amount of your benefits on.  Beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare after two years of being on SSDI.

 

Is Social Security the Same As Disability? 

Side by Side Comparison Between SSI & SSDI

 

The confusing issue here is that the term, “disability,” could refer to both SSI & SSDI.  When in fact the two benefits, SSI & SSDI, are for people with different experiences, backgrounds, &  current challenges.  And, in addition, the two programs have different requirements, awards, goals, and funding streams.

So, from a basic terminology perspective, Social Security is Disability, though it can refer to more than just that.  Likewise, disability can refer to either SSI or SSDI, or even some VA & states’ benefits.

Regardless of how mixed up this conversation has gotten you, feel free to reach out for help in understanding the difference in the programs.  You can also browse the rest of our blog for answers to questions like this and others regarding disability.

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Social Security Myth #4


“DISABILITY CLAIMS ARE SOARING!”


If you were to turn on the nightly news you might come away with the impression that disability claims have soared in recent years.  Perhaps everyone is onto the secret?   Social Security Disability is a way to get compensation from the Federal Government for being unable to work because of an injury or illness.. Or is it?

The Role of Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is a benefit paid into by most workers. If something happens that stops these workers from being able to work, they can apply to receive compensation.  An excellent way to look at this benefit is to consider it similar to an insurance policy on someone’s ability to work.  But, as some news outlets have noted, is it something else as well?  Are disability claims a path to easy street?

We’ve already covered the history of fraud, waste, abuse, and drugs in Social Security Disability, and how we got to ‘today.’ In fact, a common theme in our series on busting Social Security Disability myths has been demonstrating how the facts don’t seem to match up with the prevailing opinions on this topic.

The Typical Spin

The Washington Post opines, Welfare is the New Work,” and expands on this assertion by stating, “disability rolls are growing even as worker safety has hit an all-time high.”  The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank decries federal disability benefits becoming the new “general safety net.”  What is the truth behind these seemingly authoritative opinions?   And what are some reasons to question the conclusions of these authors?

One of the best responses to these opinions has come from the opinion pages of the New York Times.  Three entire paragraphs at the end of the previously linked article break down in detail why “Disability claims are not skyrocketing.”  We will summarize below.

If you look at the disability claims and awards over a historical timeline you can see why someone might claim a skyrocketing increase in claims.  It’s certainly something that requires a nuanced and objective look though.

A Closer Look at the Data

Since 2000, claims have doubled, however, something interesting has happened..award rates have stayed essentially the same among the entirety of workers, about 5%.  If claims are skyrocketing and award rates are staying the same, is there a problem of fraud, waste, or abuse?  Logic would say in this case, that if there were it wouldn’t be on the part of the claimants.  It is Social Security that has deviated sharply down from their historical awards rate in recent years.


Another point that is important to understand in this discussion is that while the number of claims and claims awarded may have gone up in the last 10-15 years, so too has the pool of workers from which claims can be drawn.

Bringing the Spin & the Data Together

So why has the rate of total claims increased in recent years?  Several factors likely play into this.  The first being a poor economy from 2009-2015 or so.  During the Great Recession, the total labor force far out numbered available jobs.  Everyone had a hard time finding employment, especially those on the cusp of possibly rating a disability benefit.  The reality of being terminally un-employed likely brought a number of claimants to the disability application process that would potentially have continued being the working disabled in a more traditional economy.

Other, demographic, factors also influenced the spike in applications.  The average age of the workforce was/is moving higher as baby-boomers hit retirement age.  The number of workers 55-65 years remained unusually high during the great recession as many near retirement workers chose to continue working.  Workers in this age range are at a higher risk of needing to file for disability at some point because of a confluence of age and a  lifetime of work.

Another demographic shift can be found in the rising rate of women seeking disabilities.

Women have taken more work as a whole, and also more physically demanding work over the last four decades.  In reference to this trend, since1985 the age-adjusted disability rate for women has increased at a much faster clip than age-adjusted disability rate for men.

Looking at the Assumptions Again

So, is it fair to say, “Disability Claims are Soaring!” 

Well, the disability claims rate is up, sure.  But when adjusted for age and demographics, they are only slightly up, and certainly not “soaring.”  Moreover, as we’ve shown many times in this blog, the actual award rates, despite the number of claims, has remained flat, and in respect to the number of claims – it has dropped drastically.

This last point is probably the more surprising story that places like the Washington Post missed.  The headline should read:

“The Award Rate for Disability is Plummeting!”

But that story doesn’t sell…

Lilac City Law advocates on behalf of the disabled in their claims for Social Security Disability and SSI

We provide a Free 30-minute Consultation 

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