Since medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a letter to the Social Security Administration and should I gather medical records and send them to Social Security Administration?
Social Security Administration will gather the medical records when your initial application is made. They turn your file over to a state agency that works the file up and gathers the medical information. Unfortunately they only send the doctors one request and do not follow up. Quite often as we get involved in an individual's case it becomes clear that the person was denied on a less than complete record. We make sure your record is complete.
Whether you should ask your doctor to write a letter is a hard question. I strongly advise against it. A few unrepresented people might win their cases by having their doctors write letters. The problem is that the best intentioned doctor can lose your case for you unless he or she knows Social Security law. The problem is that the medical-legal issues are so complicated in most disability cases that a doctor may inadvertently give the wrong impression. Thus, obtaining medical reports is something best left for a lawyer to do. We will contact you doctor and get them to put their opinion into a form that follows the Social Security regulations. By doing this the report has great value in the eyes of the judge.
When should I contact you about representing me?
In the past, we encouraged people to wait until it was time to request a hearing before contacting us. But things have changed. The Social Security Administration has put new emphasis on applying the same legal rules at the earlier stages that used to be applied only at the hearing stage. This means that a lawyer's help at the early stages will make a difference.
We recognize that some people who apply will be found disabled even without a lawyer's help. We understand that some people may want to go through the earlier stages by themselves. On the one hand, if you are successful in handling it yourself, you will save having to pay attorney's fees. On the other hand, your case might be one in which an attorney's help would make the difference. It is up to you whether to contact us when you first apply or to wait until you are denied; but the general rule is that it is better to contact us earlier rather than later.
If I have other questions, will you answer them by telephone?
Yes. If this website does not answer your questions, please telephone us at 636-590-6466.
What are my chances of winning?
Less than 40 percent of people who apply are found disabled at the initial stage. Do not be discouraged if you receive a denial notice. It may be necessary to go to a hearing to win your case.
What happens when I get a denial notice?
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your attorney receives a copy. It is necessary for you to do this because the Social Security Administration frequently fails to send your representative a copy of the determination. If I do not get a copy of the notice from Social Security, I won't know that a decision has been made on your case unless you tell me. Therefore, please telephone me when you get the notice of determination in your case. I will then send you the Social Security Administration forms to sign for appealing.
ONCE YOU HAVE RETAINED REPRESENTATION
Do I need to get medical records or reports for my representative?
No. You don't have to get any medical records or reports yourself. In fact, it's better if you do not even try to get such things unless I ask you to.
But what if my doctor gives me a report?
If you happen to get something such as a disability form completed by your doctor for an insurance company, etc., be sure to send me a copy.
Should I send anything to the Social Security Administration?
No. As a rule, do not send anything of any substance to the Social Security Administration without your representative seeing it first. The only exception to this rule is if Social Security Administration asks you to sign medical consent forms, you may sign them and send them directly back to Social Security Administration. I don't need to see those.
Will I have to fill out any additional forms?
Sometimes the Social Security Administration will send you a form to complete about your daily activities, etc. Sometimes the Social Security Administration asks you to complete other forms that ask about your symptoms. If you want to discuss a form with me before completing it, please call me; but here's the advice I always give: Be truthful. Don't exaggerate; but don't minimize your problems either. Include plenty of details and examples that show your limitations; but don't go on and on. Complete any form as soon as possible after you get it and send it to me. I'll review it and forward it to Social Security Administration.
Will the Social Security Administration ask me to see one of their doctors?
Sometimes the Social Security Administration will ask you to see a private doctor who is paid by Social Security Administration for what they call a "consultative examination." However, the quality of such examinations varies widely. The Social Security Administration's rules state that your own doctor can perform such an examination if your doctor is able to do it and agrees to accept the payment offered by Social Security Administration. If the Social Security Administration wants to send you for a consultative examination, we may ask that your own doctor do this exam. If you get a notice to go to a consultative examination, please telephone us to make sure we received a copy of the notice.
What will my representative do to represent me at this stage?
I will review your case. I will figure out what we need to prove to win your case and figure out how to prove it. I will make sure that the Social Security Administration gets the necessary medical records and other records. I will obtain reports from your doctors, if necessary.
Should I telephone my representative whenever I see a doctor?
No. It is not necessary to telephone me to tell me about routine medical care. But keep track of the dates of all medical treatment from now on. I will gather this information from you when we request your hearing; and I may periodically request updated medical information from you. Also keep track of the doctor's address, phone number, and a list of all medications you have been prescribed.
Under what circumstances should I telephone my representative?
If one of the following things happens, please call me:
- There is a dramatic change in your condition - for the worse or the better.
- Your doctor gives you a new diagnosis of your medical condition.
- You start seeing a new doctor.
- You are hospitalized.
- You go back to work.
- You change your address and/or telephone.
- Someone from Social Security Administration contacts you.
- You get a notice asking you to attend a consultative examination.
- You get a letter from Social Security Administration that you don't understand.
- You get a notice from Social Security Administration telling you that you are or are not disabled.