If I am waiting for a Disability Hearing, how often should I see my doctor?

Here is a question that was submitted:

"I have applied for disability and been denied, I have an attorney now and she has appealed to go in front of the judge. Now my question is this, I do not have insurance any longer as I have been out of work for over 2 years. I was wondering if anyone had an opinion about how often I should go see my doctor, as it is now I go just for my refills every 4-6 months."

This is the answer that was given:

This is always a tough issue. Disability claims are won on the basis of both vocational (job related) and medical information. However, it's the medical information that A) allows a decision-maker (a judge or an examiner, depending on the level of the claim) to determine how far back a disability exists (onset is very important when it comes to back pay, but also in reducing the effect of waiting periods) and B) just as importantly, allows the determination to be made as to whether or not a person is currently disabled.

Without recent medical record documentation, it is not possible to receive an approval for disability. What is recent? "Recent" is information that is not older than 90 days. By the time your hearing date comes around, you will want to have recent treatment, preferably by a treating physician (essentially, a doctor who has an established history of providing treatment to you) which it sounds like you have.

There may not be a way to time this. But you certainly don't want to get to a hearing and have a very large gap in your treatment history. Since you have an attorney, you may want to ask what the average wait time is for hearings in your area. The attorney may be able to give you a ballpark figure based on how scheduling has gone in the last year or two. Social Security is obligated to give you and your attorney at least 20 days advance notice of the hearing, but, typically, you get at least a month's advance notice of the disability hearing date.

If by the time you get a hearing date, you haven't been seen in quite some time you'll probably want to get seen to get some recent documentation on record, preferably by a treating physician who may also supply a medical source statement in support of your case (which your attorney will most likely attempt to request, since a treating physician's statement, when it is consistent with the remainder of the medical records, can have a powerful effect on a case).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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