When you file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with the Social Security Administration, the way you view your doctor’s appointments and the handling of your medical records must change.
For some, your habits may have to change dramatically. For others, it may not be such a stretch.
Here are four tips to better handle your paperwork and communications with your physician, your attorney, and the Social Security Administration.
Tip #1: Create a System
Because your medical records will now be used as evidence in your claim, all documentation of your visits, symptoms, bills, and paperwork will now be submittable in your case. Even with the help of a Social Security disability attorney, it is ultimately your responsibility to provide everything needed to help prove your case. In many cases, a claim may be denied simply because there is incomplete evidence of how your injury or condition relates to your ability to work full time. You may be denied benefits--and then be forced to appeal the decision--simply because your paperwork isn’t sufficient. You must create a system to help you qualify for social security disability benefits.
A system of organization start with some basics:
- File box with folders
- Notebook or Journal
First, stop by your local big-box store or office supply store and get a notebook, a file box, and some file folders. Label the folders by doctor (if you have more than one) by an attorney, and one for the Social Security Administration. Remember: your goal is to qualify for social security. A big part of proving your case is having the right paperwork. Gather all the paperwork that you already have, and see what’s missing. Ask your attorney what you need to better complete your file. Make duplicates when necessary.
Tip# 2: Document Everything, But Not Everything.
How do you know what’s important and what’s not important when it comes to your documentation of your injury or condition?
The most important factor is proving the connection between your injury or condition and your ability to work.
This means that your medical records must show that you are unable to work specifically because of your medical condition. That’s the documentation you’re trying to prove in your Social Security claim, and that’s what you need to make sure you have the correct records for. Work with your legal group to best discern what’s most important. If you currently aren’t represented by a disability attorney, sign up for a free case evaluation. We can advise you as to what we can do to help you qualify for social security.
Tip #3: Communicate Clearly
We understand that it’s not always easy to talk about your medical condition, even with your doctor. Often, patients tell their doctor that they feel fine when in actuality their condition is limiting their mobility, causing sleep disruption, or even causing depression. When something changes with how you feel, whether it’s a change in your pain or a need for relief from the side effects of your medication.
Communication works best when you not only state what you are trying to say clearly but also confirm that the listener understands what you’re saying. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if they are updating your records with the new details you’re providing. You can ask if they understand what you’re trying to say. Make sure that you consult your notes as needed and write down what your doctor or attorney tells you in response, to be sure you have a good record of the conversation.
Know that you are not alone. It’s human nature to downplay symptoms. People often will say, “my medications are fine,” when they may need to remind a physician that the side effects prevent them from driving or operating machinery. These types of side effects need to be documented, and will only be in your medical records if you communicate effectively.
Carry a small notebook with you and make notes when you notice something in your day-to-day activity that’s limited by your injury or condition. When you see your doctor, note the date and change in your condition by referencing your notebook. You can also list questions for your doctor and your attorney in this log. It will help you communicate clearly with the people who are trying to help you the most.
Tip #4: Keep Everyone Informed
If your cell phone number, mailing address, or other important contact information changes while you are in the process of qualifying for social security, it’s important that you keep your legal team in the loop. As your case progresses, you may be denied, face a hearing, go through reconsideration, and more. This can take months or even years. It’s important that you update your team when things change.
You are your own best advocate when you see your physician and your attorney as people who are there to help you qualify for Social Security benefits. The better you are able to communicate, organize, and keep everyone informed, the more likely you are to win your case.
If you don’t have a disability attorney and are fighting to qualify for Social Security benefits on your own, here’s some information that might help you make the decision of whether or not you need an attorney:
- After your free case evaluation, you’ll sign a fee agreement with your attorney. The fee is limited to 25% of your back pay, or $6,000, whichever is lower. You won’t pay your attorney upfront, and only if they win your case.
- You are dramatically more likely to win your case with an attorney. The odds of winning your case are improved by up to 50% with legal representation.
- Don’t give up because you’ve been denied. Retaining an attorney now can make a huge difference in your appeal. You don’t have to do this alone!
Here at Affleck & Gordon, our commitment to our clients sets us apart from attorneys in general practice. We specialize in winning SSI and SSDI for you, and we care about you and your success.
Let us help you today.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us at (404) 990-3945.