If you’ve applied for Social Security disability benefits, you can do a lot to help your case while waiting for a decision on your claim. Applications can take months and often years to be approved, so don’t let that time go to waste.
One crucial piece of evidence you can compile during this long process is records of regular doctor visits. Of course, applying for disability in the first place might mean it’s hard for you to get around, much less keep regular appointments, but the benefits of being treated regularly far outweigh the hassle of arranging transportation or even paying for the service.
Let’s unpack how a consistent medical record will help you and your disability case.
How Does the SSA Define “Disability”?
First, it’s helpful to know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for in successful disability applications. Your injuries must meet certain qualifications to be considered disabled and eligible for benefits. Depending on what type of disability program you apply for, you may have to prove you earn below a certain income or have accumulated enough work credits in addition to proving your disability.
First and foremost, your condition must be “medically determinable.” The SSA has established a listing of impairments and medical criteria for each one to decide if the reported disability actually affects the person significantly. This is where a doctor’s diagnosis adds legitimacy to your disability application. Having a diagnosed disorder (with evidence to back it up) from a medical professional makes it much easier for the SSA to call your disability medically determinable.
If you’re applying for supplemental security income (SSI), you must prove your disability prevents you from engaging in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) that brings in over $1,170 each month. Your household income must also meet certain limitations.
If you’re applying for disability insurance benefits (DIB), you also cannot engage in SGA, and you will need 40 work credits on record with the SSA. These credits come from working full-time and withholding Social Security taxes from your paycheck (you can earn up to 4 work credits per year). Typically, at least 20 of these credits must come from the previous 10 years of work.
Why Up-to-Date Medical Records Matter
Your medical records will follow you the rest of your life, but the entire volume of records you’ve created since birth is overwhelming for the SSA and won’t help your case unless you can specifically point to your disability.
If you haven’t visited the doctor since applying for disability, it’s even harder to locate specific diagnoses, tests, or other evidence that you are still unable to work because of the condition(s). In addition, your disability may change over time, and having the most recent evidence possible for the SSA makes it easier for them to interpret your condition as current.
The problem is, sifting through medical records on your own is time-consuming, frustrating, and overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what to look for. What’s more, it can cost up to $0.25 per page to pull your records from a medical provider. This process is expensive both in direct and opportunity cost, so you may want to consider hiring a local attorney to help you with your claim.
If your application goes to hearing, recent medical records will become even more important. Timing is an issue during this time, however, since requests for records can take anywhere between 30 and 60 days. Fortunately, you will have about 18 months of preparation time before your Evansville hearing, so make sure to schedule a few checkups during that time, compiling all that data for the hearing judge, well before a month or two before your hearing date.
Help from an Evansville Social Security Disability Attorney
Applying for disability insurance is understandably a frustrating process. Long waiting periods followed by denials may make you lose hope. You may not know about the options available to you amid complicated legal terms and lengthy requirement lists. Plus, the papers piling up from doctor visits, insurance claims, and other bills may start to be overwhelming.
When you hire an Evansville disability attorney to help file your claim, you will eliminate your need to do all this paperwork. He or she can file an initial application to the SSA, follow up during the appeals process, and gather appropriate evidence.
Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free discussion of your situation. Every effort counts in the end if you receive the disability insurance you deserve.