How much information should you put on a disability application?

Someone who was considering immediately filing for disability benefits once asked me this question and the actual point of the question detailed should you be when it comes to supplying information about medical treatment on a disability application. My answer was "give them (meaning social security) complete and accurate information, as much as you can possibly recall".

Here's the thing. After a disability claim is taken at a social security office, it is transferred and assigned to a disability examiner. What does this examiner do? Mainly four things. One: request a claimant's medical records; Two: wait for the requested medical records to arrive; Three: read and evaluate the medical records after they arrive; Four: render a decision on the claim.

If you'll notice, all four of these steps involve "medical records". In truth, whether or not a disability claim will be approved comes down to what is in a claimant's medical records (it's important to keep in mind that "records" also includes statements from doctors). And, if a disability examiner does not have access to certain records this can potentially result in one of two disastrous outcomes.

1. Even if the disability application (or appeal) is approved, the backpay may be less than what it might have been. What doe I mean by this? Older records can establish an earlier medical onset---the earlier the onset, the greater that the potential backpay amount may be. Therefore, having, or not having, all the records can make a difference.

2. Without access to all of a claimant's records, a disability claim (Social Security Disability or ssi) may be denied.

Unfortunately, on a great many disability applications, claimants either do not supply complete information regarding their medical treatment sources, or supply incorrect information.

So, how does a claimant attempt to avoid this pitfall? Here's a suggestion. Prior to being interviewed for a disability application, review your own medical history and try to come up with a complete list of the facilities where you've been seen, the doctors who have seen you, your dates of treatment, and the addresses and phone numbers for each doctor and clinic. Doing this can only improve your chances of winning Social Security Disability or ssi disability benefits.

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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