How to Win Your Social Security Disability Claim

This page will help show you how to win a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claim.  If you are committed to winning Social Security Disability (SSDI) keep reading this site.  It will also give you tips to win SSI.  I have helped thousands of people win disability and hope this information helps you too.  If you would like us to represent you or if you prefer a local lawyer click on find a Social Security Disability Lawyer and note your preference.

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This page is a simple guide to winning your Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  This is a quick summary of the most important things you can do to win your SSDI or SSI claim.  This page is not a substitute for doing further research on Social Security Disability or SSI but I will attempt to give you some solid advice while pursuing disability.  I will not discuss the law or get into procedure on this page but rather I will give five tips on things you can do to help your disability case.

The FIRST TIP to help give yourself your best chance of winning is to make sure you submit ALL relevant medical records to your attorney or Social Security.  Relevant medical records are those that pertain to your illness or injury from one year prior to the date you became disabled up through the present This includes all tests performed such as MRIs, X-Rays, blood work, EMGs etc..  Your records should include your doctor's treatment notes, any emergency room visits and hospital admissions.  If you have a doctor, who believes you are disabled, try to get him or her to give you a detailed written report of your condition and how it affects you.  This can be extremely persuasive in helping you win your Social Security benefits. 

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) forms, also called Ability to do Work Related Activity forms, can be the difference between winning and losing your SSDI or SSI claim.  You can obtain this form from Social Security or your attorney.  My firm has specific RFCs for particular ailments.  Contact us via e-mail me  about your disability and I will send you the appropriate RFC.  Physical RFCs should go to the doctor treating you for your physical problems and Mental RFC's should go to you psychiatrist.

The SECOND TIP to help increase your chance of winning is to get yourself a journal.  Take some time to yourself and write down how your condition limits you on a daily basis.  Have this journal available to you at all times so that if you experience a difficulty during the day you can make a note of it.  Begin this journal BEFORE you apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.  If you are reading this after you already applied, then start now.  
Now that you have this journal, it is time to fill it.  You want to include how your disability keeps you from performing your past work.  Make sure to note things like side effects from your medication, how your disability affects your sleeping patterns, the amount of pain you have doing certain things or even at rest.  Think about other activities and how they are limited or perhaps you are unable to do certain things at all.  How does your disability or medication side effects affect driving, shopping, seeing family, taking care of family, walking, standing, sitting, remembering appointments, cooking, dealing with stressful situations, dealing with other people etc.  Think about things you used to be able to do and can no longer do and jot those down.  Perhaps there are things you can do but only for limited periods of time due to fatigue or pain. This includes difficulty using your hands, concentration problems, inability to sit long, memory problems, constant pain, etc.  Please, keep in mind these are examples. Do not use these examples in your journal if you are not experiencing these issues.  You want your journal to be personal and specific.  So, you want to write down your issues, concerns, problems, limitations, and pain.   Because many claims will be decided on whether you can do a sit down (sedentary) job or not  (especially for those under 50 years old,) think about and write down why you could not even do a sit down job (sedentary jobs are sit down jobs where you do not have to lift greater than 10 pounds.)  Sedentary Jobs are explained more in the GRID Rules section of this site.  
After you write and maintain this journal, show it to your attorney. 

The THIRD TIP to help increase your chances of winning is to continue to get medical treatment and take your prescribed medication(s).  Many claims are denied because claimants stop seeing their doctors or stop taking their medication.  Social Security, when making a disability determination, will frequently make the wrongful assumption because you are not getting treatment and/or you're not taking your prescribed medication that your condition must not be that bad.  The rules state that Social Security must consider why an individual is not following a prescribed treatment or medication regime.   However, my experiences have shown that lack of treatment or failure to take your medication only hurts your chances of winning Social Security Disability or SSI benefits. 

The reasons that many people don't take their medication vary.  Often times it is simply financial.  It makes sense, if you cannot work because of your disability, then you cannot afford to continue to get treatments or medications.  However, as you know, it is extremely important for both your condition as well as your claim that you get regular treatment.  Do the best you can to get treatment, there are numerous programs that you can get help from such as medicaid and charity care, if you qualify. 
When you do see your doctors, make sure you tell them that you are pursuing Social Security benefits.  Be sure not to go overboard.  When I am reviewing medical records in a Social Security disability claim, there are few things more disheartening than seeing (in a doctors treatment notes) that the patient is obsessed about getting disability.  Finally, when you do see your doctor make sure that you tell your doctor your problems and how they are affecting you.

The FORTH TIP to help improve your chances of winning your claim is to ensure that Social Security has as many of your records as possible before you go for a Consultative Exam (CE).  Chances are Social Security will send you for a Consultative Exam (CE) or two.  Before you go, make sure Social Security has as many of your records as possible before your exam date.  If you just got some of your records or you recently sent them in to Social Security bring them with you to the exam to ensure they have them and give them to the CE doctor. 

The FIFTH TIP is for the consultative exam.  Tell the CE doctor all of your medical conditions.  If it is a CE for physical problems he will perform a physical exam.  Keep in mind he or she is observing you the whole time you are there.  If  it is a CE for a mental condition you can expect to be asked a series of questions and he or she will be observing everything from how you answer the questions, your mood, your demeanor, and your appearance such as how you are dressed, are you showered, is your hair done, are your nails painted etc.  When answering the questions keep in mind that these doctors have seen hundreds if not thousands of claimants trying to get disability benefits don't try and fool them by purposely giving ridiculous answers.  If you do, chances are that the doctor will note it in his report that your answers were contrived.  Not only is this dishonest but this could be fatal to a disability claim.

Another piece of advice on how to win Social Security Disability or SSI is to remember if you don't meet a listing and you are under 50 years old or you are 50 years old or older but had past relevant work that is considered sedentary your non-exertional limitations become even more important.  You will have to show that you can't even do a significant number of sedentary jobs.  Some important examples of limitations to show this are: an inability to sit for long, any mental limitations (difficulty with concentration, memory, dealing with people, etc.), limitations in reaching and use of hands and inability to stoop.  Saying you have these limitations is not enough it must be supported by the medical evidence.  RFC from your treating doctors can help here.

The most important thing to remember is that medical evidence including Residual Functional Capacity Forms (RFC forms) also called Ability to Do Work Related Activity Forms is the key to winning Social Security Disability or SSI.  It is the responsibility of the person trying to get disability to show that he or she has an impairment and how severe that impairment is.  The Social Security Administration will help in getting evidence but don't leave it up to them.  Your medical evidence should come from "acceptable medical sources".  Acceptable medical sources include licensed physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors), licensed or certified psychologist, licensed optometrist, licensed podiatrist, and qualified speech language pathologists.  Additional evidence not from an acceptable medical source such as a Chiropractor will be considered, but it is given considerably less weight.  In other words, if for example, you have a back problem.  If you are seeing a chiropractor, make sure you are also seeing a medical doctor and preferably an orthopedist.  Both will be considered, however, the orthopedist will be given considerable more weight than the chiropractor.  Social Security will also want hospital, clinic and other health facility records.  Your most important medical evidence will come from your treating sources.  If you want to win your disability benefits make sure you have evidence from your treating sources.  Social Security places special emphasis on evidence from treating sources.  A well written report detailing your condition and treatment along with your treating sources treatment notes and an RFC from him or her will go a long way to improving your chances of winning your Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

If you want to win your disability benefits continue to read this site and Social Security's website and become as knowledgeable as possible about winning Social Security Disability benefits.


 We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed.  No attorney client realtionship exist.  The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a quilified attorney.
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