Winning your Social Security Disability/SSI Appeal

You suddenly became ill or injured. Or perhaps you have a congenital condition. All you ever wanted was to feel better. All you ever wanted was to work, earn a living, contribute to your family and your community. But your health has brought you to apply for Social Security Disability. Now you have a new challenge: convincing a judge that the Social Security Administration was wrong when they denied your application for disability benefits.

There are a few things you can do. Probably the most important is to hire an attorney who is experienced in Social Security disability cases. An attorney not only represents you at the hearing in front of the judge, your attorney will help develop and prepare your case before you even appear for your hearing.

What you need to remember is that these cases are decided mostly on the basis of the medical file. When you testify at the hearing, the judge will look to confirm key elements of your testimony with the content of your medical records. For this reason, you must remember to be open and honest with your medical providers about how your medical conditions affect your functioning. For example, if you cannot vacuum, this is a functional limitation. Make sure you are telling your medical providers about such limitations. When applying for disability, or SSI, you are saying that your medical conditions impose functional restrictions that prevent you from working. If your medical records reference the same limitations to which you testify in front of the judge, you can see how much stronger that is, rather than for the judge to hear of your functional limitations for the first time at the hearing.

Another thing that you can do is make sure you are getting the medical help you need. Sometimes people are reluctant to confront their mental health, often denying their anxiety and depression, thinking if only they are stronger, they will overcome these feelings on their own. But your mental health and physical health are often intertwined, and if you suffer from a mental health condition, it may affect your ability to obtain a job, it may affect your ability to be productive on the job, and it may affect other functional aspects of your life including your relationships with those you know. By getting the treatment you need, you will establish both the presence of a mental health condition and how it affects your ability to function. Mental health counselors, in particular, do a very good job of making a medical record that documents your activities of daily living and a decline in your activities translates into your inability to function at the workplace. So make sure you are getting the help you need, the help you deserve.

There is a lot of help available to you. Make sure your providers clearly understand how your medical conditions impact your functioning and ask them to document this as part of their medical record. Get the medical treatment you need. Find an attorney competent in Social Security disability cases. Your chance of success may improve if you follow these suggestions.