Common Disability Hearing Mistakes

Common Mistakes made at hearing by Social Security Disability Applications.
Don’t make these two mistakes at your disability hearing

The chances are that if scheduled for a Social Security Disability hearing, you’ve been waiting for a long time. The average wait time, until the hearing itself, is around 12-18 months. After that long wait, you want to make the most of it so make sure you go prepared. This article highlights two important things that you should do…one before your hearing and the other during the hearing.

First, before your Social Security Disability hearing, you should always review what evidence has accumulated in your disability case. When scheduled for a hearing, the Social Security hearing office assigned to your case will send you an electronic copy of your file contained on a CD. It’s your responsibility to review the evidence and make sure that the medical records contained in your file are current and complete. If you don’t have access to a computer, you’re welcome to contact the Social Security disability hearing office. Set up a time to view the evidence file at that office in advance of the disability hearing. One of the most common mistakes that people make; they assume that the Social Security hearing office will take care of getting all of the evidence together. There’s a rational basis for believing that Social Security will do all the work. After all, at the lower levels of the process it is Social Security’s responsibility to build your case and establish whether you’re disabled. The responsibility changes when you request a hearing. At the hearing level, the burden of proving your case shifts from Social Security to you. Don’t make the mistake of walking into your hearing and expecting all of your medical records to be there because they won’t be. As mentioned above, you should review the evidence in your file the moment your hearing is scheduled. When considering the evidence, make sure to check the dates on the medical records that are in your file. Often, you’ll see medical records from your doctors in your file, but if you look you’ll see that the documents received anywhere from six to eighteen months ago, if not longer. Any new developments with your conditions won’t be available for the judge to see. Step one is always to review the dates of the medical records already in your file and request updated records from your medical providers. When you get the records, you should immediately submit them to the Social Security hearing office; don’t wait to take the medical records on the day of the hearing. In addition to reviewing dates on medical records already contained in your file, you should review for missing medical records. If you’ve seen five different doctors and your hearing file only has three, obviously there’s a problem. Request and submit any missing medical records as soon as possible.

Showing Up Without Complete Records Is A Disability Hearing Mistake
When your hearing is scheduled, make sure to review all the medical evidence in your file and ensure that it is complete. If records are missing, request them and get them to the Social Security Disability hearing office before your hearing. Showing up without complete medical records is a disability hearing mistake you can’t afford to make.

One of the most common hearing mistakes made by claimants without attorneys is that they spend too much time telling the judge about their conditions and not enough time telling the judge about their limitations. Contrary to popular belief, Social Security Disability doesn’t get awarded to those with disabilities; it gets approved to those who have occupational limitations that come from their disabilities. In all reality, Social Security doesn’t care much about your medical condition. Medical conditions are only a piece of the puzzle. The diagnosis doesn’t matter much as how does it prevent you from working? When you’re in your hearing, don’t waste time telling the judge about COPD diagnosis procedures and what it is. The judge doesn’t care about COPD and how it affects people, the judge cares about how the condition affects your ability to work! What limitations do you have as a result of your medical condition? Is it difficult to breathe? Do you get shortness of breath with physical activity? Are you prevented from standing or walking for extended periods of time? Do the medications you take have side effects that would prevent you from being able to work? These are the types of questions that the judge wants to be answered. Tell the judge what you can’t do as a result of your condition, not about your condition. If you focus on limitations rather than conditions, you’ll be speaking the same language as the judge in your case.

Remember to review your evidence file in advance of the hearing and get any new medical records submitted in advance of the hearing. When you’re at your hearing, the administrative law judge speaks the language of limitations, not conditions. So be prepared to tell the judge about what you’re unable to do as a result of your conditions.

Talking About Only Your Conditions Is a Disability Hearing Mistake
It would be a major disability hearing mistake to talk only about your conditions at your hearing. Social Security wants to know about your limitations more than your conditions. Limitations tell Social Security what, if any, jobs you might be able to do.