To be found disabled under Social Security’s rules, a claimant must:
- Be unable to do any substantial work because of his/her medical condition(s); and
- The medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year, or be expected to result in death.
Disability must be proven with medical records documenting current treatment. Past medical treatment or bare minimum medical treatment is not enough. Social Security must see that your disabling condition exists and is continuing through the present.
In order to achieve this, it is important to establish a relationship with a doctor who treats your disabling condition(s). Keeping follow-up appointments with your doctor and following his or her treatment plan is very important. Each time you miss an appointment or fail to comply with treatment, it is noted by your doctor’s office staff, which is then seen in your medical records.
Social Security must also see that the medical evidence “jives” with the disabilities you are claiming. Remember when we talked about credibility and the role your medical records play? Doctors often take SOAP notes (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan), which record what the patient feels (Subjective) as well as the doctor’s findings (Objective). These records are reviewed alongside your allegations of disability to see whether there is a correlation between the two. Because of this, it is important to be honest with your doctor and to make sure you express all of your concerns to him or her.
Along those same lines, medical records are a valuable source of information regarding how your disability worsens or improves. Because your disabling condition must last, or be expected to last, twelve months or more, your medical records will outline the progression of your disability for Social Security. By keeping follow up appointments with your doctor, as stated earlier, it is easier to track the severity of symptoms as well as uncover any new symptoms that may have developed since you became disabled.
Overall, the most important point to take away from this blog is to make every effort to continue your medical treatment. Even if you have a test, appointment or procedure scheduled for the future, let Social Security or your representative know. By helping to assure Social Security has all of your pertinent information, it could mean the difference between an approval and a denial.