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Documenting Your Disability: Building a Solid Case for Approval

— October 30, 2023

The more proof that an applicant provides verifying that they are physically unable to work, the better their chances are of receiving the benefits they need.  

A lot of people believe that disability benefits are next to impossible to obtain. As anyone who has had a qualifying injury can tell you, filling out some forms or turning in an application is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, most social security claims are rejected after their initial submission.

The main reason for almost all of these rejections was not that the claimants weren’t deserving of any benefits but rather that their application or its supporting documentation did not meet the uncompromising standards of the examiner who reviewed their claim. Although a Social Security benefits application is made up of multiple components, the one most frequently overlooked is a complete and thorough record of your qualifying injury or disability. Help from disability insurance attorneys can offer you the best chance at a favorable outcome for your case. 

In the meantime, there are some things you should keep in mind when documenting your disability for a Social Security Disability Insurance case.

Is Your Exact Disability on the Government’s List?

You and your physician might feel you are not capable of performing basic actions that would make it possible for you to take on regular work. However, this does not mean that your exact condition qualifies you for benefits. The Social Security Administration keeps an index of qualifying impairments that they deem serious enough that those affected may qualify for benefits. Most claimants fail to review this list, instead citing a generic injury or general pain. Correct classification of your injury is a crucial factor for those seeking a positive result to their claim for social security.

Is Your Disability Equivalent to One on the Government’s List?

If your exact disability or impairment, as diagnosed by your physician, is not included in the government’s index of qualifying disabilities, all hope is not lost. A lot of medical conditions present the same or similar symptoms, pain intensity, or limiting effects as those on the list. It is simply not feasible for the index to include every ailment known to man, and examiners are given leeway to approve benefits for a claimant whose condition is equivalent to one that is listed. If your specific condition is not on the List of Approved Conditions, then speaking to a reputable attorney with experience handling Social Security benefits can help you pinpoint qualifying conditions considered equivalent to your disability or injury. 

Is Your Disability Listed at All?

In some instances, applicants might have a disability or injury that is neither indexed nor equivalent to a disability or injury on the government’s list. In these cases, examiners are permitted to approve a claim provided that the applicant has proven that their disability is so serious it limits their ability to move and/or function so greatly they are simply not able to work. This is a difficult decision that often requires an enormous amount of documentation regarding the specifics of the disability or injury as well as reasons why it prohibits you from functioning normally. 

How Do I Document an Unlisted Disability?

Whether or not an applicant qualifies depends on their symptoms and diagnosis, both of which have to be serious enough for them to qualify as disabled.

When applying, the Social Security Administration requires as much documentation as possible to confirm disability. Although working with a Social Security lawyer is the most effective way to ensure the acceptance of your application, you can also start an application on your own.

Listed below are five ways you can document your disability that will improve your chances of being approved for benefits:

Medical Records

Auditor Criticizes North Carolina Medical Board Practices
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The most essential documents you need to apply are your medical records. These official documents will include evidence of your injury or disability from the day you started noticing symptoms.

Doctor appointments, hospital records, prescriptions, and check-ups are all critical in proving the severity of your disability to the SSA. 

Records should be readily accessible and well-organized for the duration of your claims process. The SSA will periodically ask for copies or clarification of documents, so it is a good idea to have them at hand.

Testimony of the Treating Doctor

When trying to prove your disability, your primary care physician can be a great resource. Their knowledge and expertise on your case lend their views a lot of weight when the SSA is reviewing your case.

Physician testimonials can be submitted in different ways. One choice is to have the doctor write an official recommendation of disability and include it in your application. They could also complete a residual functional capacity form which serves as formal documentation of a patient’s inability to function and objectively prove disability.

History of Medication Failure

Before the Social Security Administration awards you disability benefits, they are going to make sure you have tried everything possible to resolve your medical issues. The SSA is more apt to recognize medical and economic strain and grant disability benefits, particularly in cases where standard methods of treatment have proven ineffective.

Maintaining a list that documents the effectiveness of all prior and current medications is another good way to demonstrate the seriousness of your disability. This can also be included with your application.

Previous Colleague/Employer Testimony

To show the extent to which your disability impedes you, testimonies from previous colleagues and employers should not be overlooked. These affidavits will give a degree of insight into your working life and provide first-hand narratives about how your efficiency, safety, and/or other abilities are hampered by your injury or disability.

The more proof that an applicant provides verifying that they are physically unable to work, the better their chances are of receiving the benefits they need.  

Lawyer’s Representation

Representation by a disability lawyer could be a huge boon to your case. Disability lawyers are well-versed in the various aspects of a disability claim and are fully cognizant of the qualifications that are required to collect benefits.

If you think you qualify for disability benefits, consider consulting a disability lawyer or advocate. Both can be invaluable resources when it comes to filling out your application, keeping your documentation organized and if necessary, assisting you with the appeals process. 

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