Medical Source Statements Social Security Disability

Standard

The social security disability process requires you to prove that you are disabled.  You may have to do this multiple times.  For instance, you may to prove this when you submit your application, and again if you have to appeal a denial and appear in front of a judge.  Usually, the best evidence is medical evidence – and the best medical evidence is something we call a Medical Source Statement or a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment.

You will need to present this form to your doctor and ask her to fill it out.  I’ve provided a link to an example of a Medical Source Statement below.  Basically, this form allows your doctor to explain your diagnosis, the testing you have undergone, and how your mental or physical condition affects your functional ability.  Your primary care doctor or a specialist who has treated you will be the best doctors to ask to fill this form out.

When you ask your doctor to fill out this form, ask her to be as specific as possible – not just about the fact that you have pain, but in the details about what you can and cannot do.  You will want the doctor to explain that your pain affects things like how long you can sit or stand during a work day and how much you can lift at any one time.

It’s common for people to think that if they give the Social Security Administration all of their medical records, then a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment is not necessary.  If you only rely on your medical records, then there is no explanation of what those records mean.  You might have an x-ray or an MRI that shows what is wrong with you, but those tests don’t explain how your condition limits your ability to work.  But a Medical Source Statement does.

You want to make it as easy as possible for the judge to rule in your favor.  A Medical Source Statement gives the judge an easy to use piece of evidence to do that.  Even if you have to pay the doctor to fill it out, it will be worth it when you win.

An example of this type of form can be found at Source Link

Advertisements

Social Security Disability: Medical Records

Standard

The number one most important reason why people win or lose their social security disability claim is their medical records.  People who can’t work because of a physical or mental condition are supposed to qualify for disability benefits.  If your medical records don’t make it to the social security administration before a decision is issued, then there won’t be any evidence to prove your disability.

The Social Security Administration is supposed to gather up all of your medical records from your doctors, but they don’t always get that done.  It’s pretty common for something to be missing.  So, it’s pretty important for you to keep a good list of all of the doctors that you have seen, get the medical records yourself, and take a copy to the Social Security Administration office.

Social Security laws require your doctor to give you the first copy of your records for free if you are filing a disability claim.  You don’t have to worry about being able to afford them.

Your medical records will be the most important evidence in your case.  So, make it easy for the SSA to rule in your favor by giving them all of your records.  We do this for our clients.  We’ve seen too many cases where the SSA has failed to get everything and it really hurts the case.  This is one of the most important things we do for our clients because it gives them the best chance to win.

Social Security Disability: How Does Your Age Affect Your Eligibility

Standard

You’d be surprised at how many people think you can only get social security disability benefits if you are over 65 years old.  These people are confusing disability benefits with retirement benefits.  Disability benefits are available for anybody who qualifies, and who is not old enough to retire.  But age does affect how easy it may be for you to qualify for benefits.

Social Security laws place people into age categories.  Everybody aged 18 to 44 are considered young individuals, those 45-49 are younger individuals, 50-54 are called closely approaching advanced age, those 55-59 are considered advanced age, and 60-65 are closely approaching retirement age.

The older you are, the easier it will be for you to qualify for disability benefits.  Your education and work skills will be part of that equation, but your age is the starting point in figuring out what you will have to prove in order to win.  For example, if you are 48 years old with little formal education, and you can only do a job where you can sit all day, you will probably be denied disability if you are able to read and write.  But if you are 52 in the same circumstances, you would probably win.  When the age category changes, the eligibility criteria change as well.  At age 48, you have to prove that you can’t do any work at all, but at Age 52, you only have to prove that you are limited to work that can be done sitting down.

The reason why age matters so much is that we don’t expect older people who are close to retirement to go through job retraining and start a new career.  The younger you are, the more we might expect you to adapt and change so that you can participate in the workforce.

One of the reasons to consider hiring a lawyer for a social security disability claim is to take advantage of their knowledge about how age, education and job skills can be manipulated  to your advantage to give you the best chance to win your case.

Social Security Disability: Don’t They Deny Everybody’s Application?

Standard

You’ve probably heard people talk about how everybody gets denied the first time when they file for social security disability benefits.  This is actually true.  Social Security Administration statistics show that they deny about 65% of all applications for benefits.

People that try to handle their case without a lawyer will usually make the mistake of filing a second application, but that is usually the wrong thing to do.  In most states, including Texas, you should file an appeal called a Request For Reconsideration.  At that stage of the process, the SSA approves about 13% of these appeals.  That’s still a bad number.

The good news is that the next step is more favorable.  The appeal after reconsideration is to request a hearing with a judge.  At that point, almost 62% of these cases are approved!

So, filing a second application gives you worse odds than filing an appeal and getting your case in front of a judge.  If you have evidence of the severity of your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work, file an appeal to get the best chance at winning your case.

Social Security Disability: Does Your Diagnosis Matter?

Standard

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you have to prove that you have a physical or mental condition severe enough to keep you from working for at least one year.  So, your diagnosis will be very important because no judge will believe that a simple muscle sprain will keep you from working that long.  Most judges will believe that a herniated disc or cancer, or major reconstructive surgery, could be severe enough to keep you off work for a long time.

There is another reason why your diagnosis matters, and you may not have ever heard of it.  The SSA calls it a “listing.”  A listing is a list of certain diagnoses that can be an automatic qualifier for disability benefits if you have the right symptoms.

For example, if you have something wrong with your spine, like a herniated disc or stenosis, AND your MRI shows nerve root compression, AND you have pain, range of motion loss, muscle weakness, sensory or reflex loss, AND a positive straight leg raise test, then you might be an automatic qualifier.

There’s no need for you to know how to prove any of that.  These are all things your lawyer and doctor can get put on paper for you.  What’s important to know is that your symptoms are just as important as your diagnosis.  This is because you might have a herniated disc in your spine, but if it is not causing any symptoms, then it is not affecting your ability to work

It is important to regularly follow up with your doctors so that your symptoms will be documented and the right medical testing can be done.  If you have long periods of time between appointments, it makes it more difficult to prove the severity of your condition.

Your diagnosis and your symptoms are both very important to your disability case.  If you think you might be an automatic qualifier for social security disability benefits, give us a call and we’ll check it out.

Social Security Disability: Disability Determination Process

Standard

The process begins by filling out an application for disability which explains claimant’s impairment(s), treatment sources, and other information that relates to the alleged disability.

Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through a network of local Social Security Administration.  The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information.

The field office then sends the case to a DDS (Disability Determination Services) for evaluation of disability.  The DDS tries to obtain evidence from the claimant’s own medical sources first. If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination, the DDS will arrange for a CE (consultative examination) to obtain the additional information needed.  After reviewing the evidence, the DDS makes the initial disability determination.

The DDS returns the case to the field office for appropriate action. If the DDS found that the claimant is disabled, SSA completes any outstanding non-disability development, computes the benefit amount, and begins paying benefits. If the claimant was found not to be disabled, the file is kept in the field office in case the claimant decides to appeal the determination.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357-1782

Social Security: Earnings Required to Meet Quarterly Coverage

Standard

workers

When a person files for Social Security Disability (SSDI), they will need to meet a minimum requirement for for their past earnings.  Past earnings are calculated on a quarterly basis.  A person meets Quarterly Coverage (QC) when they have earned the required level of wages or earning.

The minimum requirement can change each year.  Here is a list of the last few years required levels:

  • 2010:     $1,120
  • 2011:     $1,120
  • 2012:     $1,130
  • 2013:     $1,160
  • 2014:     $1,200
  • 2015:     $1,220
  • 2016:     $1,260

Always calculate your Quarterly Coverage prior to filing for Social Security Benefits.  This will help prevent a denial that could have been avoided.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirn.net, (214)357-1782