In helping thousands of Ohio Social Security disability claimants we have learned what works and what does not. Here are some simple rules to remember.
DO apply for Social Security disability benefits if you have a severe physical or mental disability that (1) has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months and (2) is documented by medically accepted tests and diagnostic techniques and (3) renders you unable to work.
DO support your claim with medical evidence. The Social Security Administration requires a lot of medical documentation. The Social Security Administration assumes that if your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working, then it is severe enough to require doctor visits, lab tests, prescription medications, etc., and it wants to see these records. You can help by signing the medical consent forms (records releases) and providing the Social Security Administration (and your attorney, if you have one) with a complete list of all your medical providers.
DO keep detailed and accurate records. The Social Security Administration does not expect you to remember the date of every doctor visit or the results of every test. You can, though, help your case by keeping detailed records of your medical treatment and your symptoms. Consider keeping a separate calendar dedicated to medical appointments. Keep a file that contains the business cards of all your doctors; add a new card to this file each time you visit a new doctor. Don’t throw away empty prescription bottles; they can be a quick and easy source of information about your medication history. Consider keeping a diary or journal in which you note your symptoms and how you are feeling each day. Keep track of good days and bad days – days that your symptoms would keep you home from work if you had a job.
DO be honest and forthright. The administrative law judge will assess your credibility. If you lose this, your chance of prevailing on your claim is diminished significantly.
DO appeal a denial of benefits. While it is true that most initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied, more than half of the claimants who appeal at the hearing level are awarded benefits.
DON’T ignore your doctor’s orders. The Social Security Administration expects you to make an effort to get better and return to the workforce. Consequently, as a general rule, the Administration expects you to comply with your doctor’s orders. If you refuse to do so, you should be prepared to explain why (e.g., the treatment was risky or invasive, or you have religious objections to the treatment) and to seek other forms of treatment.
DON’T offer a medical diagnosis; DO describe your symptoms and limitations. Let your doctor provide the Social Security Administration with a medical diagnosis of your condition. You can provide a detailed description of how that condition makes you feel and how it impacts your life. For example, if the administrative law judge at your disability hearing asks, “Why can’t you work?” do not say, “Because I have arthritis.” Instead, describe the pain in your hands and fingers. Is it constant? Does it come and go? What triggers the pain? What do you do to alleviate the pain? How does your arthritis limit your daily activity? Are you able to dress yourself, brush your teeth, cook for your family, or work in the garden? The Social Security Administration will focus on your functional limitations more than on your diagnosis.
DON’T get sidetracked by issues that are not relevant to the Social Security Administration. Though it may seem to defy commonsense, the following real-world issues that are important to you are, by law, irrelevant to the determination of your Social Security disability claim: a lack of work in your local area, that you would not actually be hired for a job, that you do not want a particular job, or that a particular job does not pay enough to support your family. None of these factors matters to the Social Security Administration.
Many are contained in this web site. Others we will tell you in your initial interview, and most we provide as we get ready for your hearing.
If you would like to us to evaluate your claim, please complete the form to the right. If you have questions, you may contact us at:
Roose & Ressler
Ohio Social Security disability lawyers
Lorain, Ohio office:
440-985-1085 or toll-free 800-448-4211
Mansfield, Ohio office:
419-524-5333 or toll-free 888-690-5033
Oberlin, Ohio office:
440-774-7700 or toll-free 800-448-4211
Toledo, Ohio office:
419-242-1515 or toll-free 888-679-5656
Wooster, Ohio office:
330-263-5333 or toll-free 888-690-5033