If you want to win Social Security disability benefits, in my opinion it is essential to get a Residual Functional Capacity statement.
It is the single most important step in a Social Security disability case.
These RFCs go by a lot of different names: Medical Source Statement, Medical Opinion, Narrative. However, Residual Functional Capacity simply means what you can still do despite your disabilities and impairments. Put another way, your RFC is what you can do considering your workplace limitations.
Since Social Security disability cases focus on your ability to work, your RFC is a critical part of your Social Security disability case.
So, how do I develop my workplace limitations and residual functional capacity?
While many lawyers use a custom form (my Colorado Social Security disability law firm uses special forms for our clients which we have fine tuned over the years) Social Security provides two general workplace limitations forms that anyone can use.
Continue reading Winning Social Security disability with RFC forms
This is one of the most difficult issues in a Social Security disability case. You might look “normal,” but you know that there is no way that you can work.
If you tell someone that you are applying for Social Security, they may raise their eyebrows in surprise, or even tell you, “you don’t look disabled.”
When you applied for Social Security, the technician may even have given you a hard time because you seemed fine. Continue reading Winning Social Security when you don’t LOOK disabled
San Francisco disability attorney Geri Kahn wrote about her experiences with providing records to Social Security:
Before filing a new initial claim I always order the records and then submit them directly to the Social Security field office immediately after I have filed the claim electronically. I recently was at an interview in one of the field offices in San Francisco and the claims representative told me that he could not accept the records I was submitting because he was only permitted to fax 15 pages to the state agency disability examiner.
Since you need to prove that you are unable to work to win a Social Security disability claim, Social Security often uses disability examiners to get a medical opinion of what a person can and cannot do. Disability examiners use the medical records Social Security provides to make this decision.
Then, Social Security uses the disability examiner’s opinion to decide if your condition(s) make you disabled.
Limiting the number of pages sent to a disability examiner, and to 15 pages no less, is ridiculous.
That is barely a sliver of the amount of information in most cases. It’s like deciding whether an individual is disabled by seeing if they can walk down a hallway.
Fortunately, most cases get a much better review with judges at the hearing level. If you are denied on your initial application, do not give up. Appeal!
via California Social Security Lawyer Blog.
The American College of Rheumatology has a great overview of what a rheumatologist is and when you should consider seeing one.
A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who is qualified by additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists conduct research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases.
What Do Rheumatologists Treat?
Continue reading What is a rheumatologist?
It can be very difficult to win Social Security disability benefits based on fibromyalgia. However, it can be done!
While Social Security no longer considers fibromyalgia as a “imaginary” condition, or a “junk” diagnosis, you still need to make sure the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is backed up by medical findings.
I have reviewed many medical records which mention fibromyalgia, but don’t say how the doctor made the diagnosis. There is no mention of physical examinations or findings. Social Security may throw out the diagnosis because of a lack of medical support.
Without a diagnosis, all you have are symptoms and Social Security cannot approve disability benefits on symptoms alone.
This can stop a case dead in its tracks!
So, what do you need to properly diagnosis fibromyalgia? Continue reading How to diagnose fibromyalgia
I am often asked whether seeing a specialist will help in a Social Security disability case.
Do I need to see a specialist? I have my own doctor. What else can a specialist tell me about my case? How can they help?
I have seen numerous cases where Social Security has downplayed the opinion of a treating physician because the doctor is not a specialist!
I have even seen some cases where the Judge rejected the primary care provider’s opinion at hearing because he thought the doctor was just “saying what the patient wanted the doctor to say.”
A lot of these problems can be eliminated with a specialist’s evaluation and medical opinion. Continue reading Can I win Social Security disability without a specialist?
The answer to this is “yes,” and “no.”
When Social Security requests medical records from a treatment provider (doctor, hospital, walk-in clinic, physical therapist, chiropractor, etc.), and they put a cap on how much they are going to pay for those records.
Unfortunately, they do not put any cap on how much the medical records provider can charge you if you request the same records. I have previously written about how much treatment providers can charge for medical records in the state of Colorado. Other states have similar laws in place setting the maximum for medical record charges. However, Social Security gets the best deal when it comes to requesting medical records.
You can use this to your advantage: Continue reading Does Social Security set a maximum fee for medical record charges?
ALISON (Automated Licensure Information System Online), is the online licensing database for the state of Colorado. I previously wrote about how this site is a great resource for finding an address for your doctor.
This site also has another use. If your doctor has been suspended, this will show up ALISON.
When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will need to provide the name and address of each doctor you have seen for the last several years.
You may have this information for your current doctors, but finding the addresses for your older doctors may be trickier.
How do I find your doctor’s address if she has moved her office?
Continue reading Need help finding your doctor’s office in Colorado?
You already know how important it is to get a Medical Source Statement in your Social Security disability case.
The best source for this is your own doctor.
However, I typically see Social Security have one of their technicians or a Social Security doctor, who has never seen or examined you, determine your limitations.
When I discuss this with my clients, I am often asked why? Why does it seem like Social Security purposefully avoids getting this information from the best source, your own doctor? Continue reading Why doesn’t Social Security ask my doctor if I can work?