Recently, I was called by a parent for their adult child. The child was previously on Social Security but then the benefits were stopped after the age 18 review. There were a number of extremely sympathetic factors:
- Without the Social Security benefits, they will both be homeless.
- The parent has a potentially terminal condition and wants to make sure the child will have some resources.
These are the kinds of cases idealist young lawyers want to help with…. until they get out of law school and the loans start coming due.
And then they realize that not only do they want to work on cases that are morally worthy, they also would like cases that keep the lights on and shoes on their kids feet.
And then the hard calculation start:
- What’s the monthly benefit amount?
- How many months of back benefits are there?
- Is it a fee cap case?
And the number one question that decides if a lawyer is going to take a Social Security disability case:
Is there good current evidence?
You might have thought it would have been more about the money. And for a number of lawyers, it will be just that.
However, when I look at a case, the number one reason I have to decline is that there has been no (or very little) treatment in the last 12 months.
Social Security looks at the recent medical evidence (about the last 12 months) to see how your conditions affect your functioning. This is what they use to decide if you are disabled. If there is no mention of your disabling condition, then it is as if it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter if it is a condition that doesn’t go away, or doesn’t get better. No records = no evidence.
And I can’t make a case with no evidence.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this post, it is to GET TREATMENT.
Even if you have a chronic condition, or if the doctors have told you there is nothing more that they can do. You need to keep treating to keep building (or just to maintain) the evidence.