5 Tips for a Winning Social Security Claim

  1. Identification of Medical Conditions
  • Identify all medical conditions on the application, even conditions believed to be relatively minor
  • This is important because Social Security looks at the combination of all conditions to determine overall limitations or level of impairment
  • Commonly left out conditions include: obesity, headaches, asthma, depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, frequent urination or incontinence, abnormal gait or limited range of motion, vision changes
  1. Medical Records
  • Submitting x-ray reports, MRIs, CT scans, EKG reports, lab reports, and office treatment records with the initial application is extremely helpful to speeding up the claim process
  • If medical records are not readily available, inform Social Security of all sources of medical evidence (this can include records from prisons, free clinics, state hospitals, schools, worker’s compensation cases)
  1. Medical Source Statements
  • If a treating doctor is willing to complete a Medical Source Statement, this will demonstrate why a disabled person cannot work and what specific limitations prevent them from doing so
  • These statements are often one of the most important pieces of evidence in the claim file and can be sent to Social Security after the application is filed
  • ClaimAid has a library of Medical Source Statements covering a variety of mental and physical impairments
  1. Details, Details, Details
  • Ask patients to keep a log of symptoms and impairments – for example, tracking headaches, seizures, fainting spells, falls, feelings of depression or anxiety, pain levels
  • Keep Social Security updated on any changes of address, household income, new conditions, worsening of symptoms
  1. Understanding the Process
  • It is important to understand up front that the Social Security Disability process is a long one
  • Initial applications are now averaging 3 to 5 months, Requests for Reconsideration (first level of appeal) are averaging 6 months, and Administrative Hearings are averaging 18 to 24 months from the date of the initial application

Case Highlight

Becky was a 61 year old college graduate with a past work history as a nurse.  She had to stop working due to Arteriosclerosis Health Disease (ASHD), Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), Diabetes, Diabetic Neuropathy, Hypertension, Osteoporosis and complications secondary to those conditions.  She has been waiting for a hearing for 18 months before hiring ClaimAid.  I submitted something called and “On the Record” request – a formal memorandum asking the judge to make a decision based on the evidence in her claim file.  Within a month, she received a fully favorable decision and approximately $24,000 in back pay!