How to use your Social Security denial to strengthen your case for hearing.
Denied Social Security disability?
Well, not really. However, you now have a NEW TOOL to win your disability case! Read on…
Now, you would really like to complete a form before the decision because this Social Security often make the first decision in your case in 4 to 6 months. And if you are denied, you are looking at 6 to 16 months on top of that to get a hearing. As of this writing, the average wait time for a Social Security disability hearing in Colorado Springs is 15.5 months. You can check the current wait time for your area here.
So, after you file the appeal, and the shock of looking at more than a year waiting for your hearing wears off, you may still need to get a statement of your limitations from your doctor (maybe even the same one who said “no” before you were denied).
Well, GOOD NEWS! You now have an additional tool to convince the doctor to complete the form.
What is it?
It’s Social Security’s own report on your limitations and it is in your Social Security file (which you can easily get from the hearing office after your appeal is filed).
You may have to go through the entire file, but it is worth it!
You are looking for Social Security’s summary of your abilities and limitations. Here is where to find them:
- There is often one by the Social Security technician who reviewed your case in the first 20 pages. Print it!
- Then keep going: there is often a second report by the Social Security doctor in the “F” section of the file (“F” for medical records because of course it is). Print that one too!
How to use Social Security’s limitations to your advantage
Now you have two reports saying you are healthy as a spring chicken, and you want to go back to bed and cry. Hey, that’s cool. You can totally do that. This post will still be here tomorrow.
Back again? Super! Here is why these documents are important:
These documents show what Social Security thinks you can do. This is what you are fighting against in your disability case. You have identified the enemy. Now you can beat it!
Take a look at the reports:
- Are they ridiculous?
- Are they ludicrous?
- Are they completely divorced from reality?
Yes? All the better! Because this is what you are going to do.
First, highlight the best bits! Don’t write notes. Just highlight the sections discussing your “abilities” according to Social Security and any BIG errors. If it is a consultative report from a Social Security doctor, the limitations are going to be on the last page or two.
Now, you are going to take these to your doctor and say,
I want you to take a look at this. This is what Social Security thinks I can do. Do you agree?
Wait for an answer! Yes, it is painful to p – a – u – s – e and w – a – i – t for an answer.
Do it anyway!
You want to know what your doctor really thinks about your disability!
If the doctor generally agrees with Social Security, stop right there. Either you or your doctor has an unrealistic view of your condition(s) and you need to figure out who is off base.
However, chances are your doctor will disagree with Social Security’s opinion.
How do I know this? Because the doctor has treated you for months or years. They’ve seen you on good days and bad days and they’ve seen how you have changed since you became disabled. Meanwhile, the Social Security reports were completed by someone who, at best, has only seen you once.
Then you say to your doctor:
If you don’t agree, I need you to write me a letter and/or fill out a limitations form (which I have right here). Or I am going to be stuck with this Social Security opinion and I’m probably going to be denied again.
Hopefully, the Social Security form gets the doctor upset enough that regardless of any office policy, he or she will complete the limitations form for you.
The fear of advocate doctors
Social Security has a phobia about doctors becoming biased advocates for their patients.
This fear of “doctor as advocate” is the reason Social Security doesn’t just ask your doctor what you can or can’t do in the first place.
They think you have your doctor so twisted around your little finger that the doctor will say or do anything for you. That’s why Social Security gets “independent” evaluations from “impartial” doctors. As if a doctor working on contract and doing a day’s worth of 20 minute exam with no, or minimal, medical records to review is in any way independent, impartial, or most importantly, competent to make an opinion of your limitations.
Your doctor SHOULD be an advocate for you!
I am not trying to make your doctor an advocate in the “say anything to get you approved” sense.
I want your doctor to be your advocate in the “if you disagree with Social Security’s opinion, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND PUT PEN TO PAPER” sense.
That’s no more controversial than wanting a second opinion. That’s developing evidence so it isn’t just Social Security technicians deciding who is disabled. It’s getting actual medical specialists who have seen you and know you (you know: “primary source evidence”) to have a say in deciding your disability!
Ok. Now that you have a blueprint, get out there and build your case!