By Jodee Dietzenbach
It is normal to be concerned with how you present yourself and your evidence to Social Security. In most cases, you are providing evidence under penalty of perjury, so you want it to be as accurate and truthful as possible. Social Security requires you to submit any evidence that tends to show whether or not you are disabled. However, you also want to present evidence in a way that is going to help you win your case.
The good news is you can do both. You can provide evidence in a way that helps your case and is also honest and truthful. One important way to do this is to understand your responsibilities in a Social Security case. While there is no comprehensive list of things you should or shouldn’t do in a disability case, below are some suggestions that may help you.
- You shouldn’t disappear.
Social Security has to be able to reach you. If you change your phone number or address, you need to let them know. If they have a question or want to approve you, they will not be able to take any further action if they can’t find you.
- You shouldn’t stop getting treatment.
You will need to maintain consistent medical treatment in order to prove your case. If you are not getting medical treatment, you will need to show Social Security that you are trying to seek medical providers or insurance so you can get medical treatment. If a medical provider has stated that no more can be done to treat or help your condition, Social Security will expect to see a medical record or statement in your file explaining why this is so.
- You shouldn’t forget to inform Social Security of any and all medical treatment.
You are required to submit to SSA any evidence that tends to show whether or not you are disabled. This includes information from primary care physicians, specialists, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, urgent care, emergency room, hospitalizations, facilities where medical testing has been performed, mental health treatment, alternative medicine providers, any medical evaluations, and/or other types of records of treatment. You are only required to provide evidence going back to a certain date. This date is different in every case, but generally Social Security will want to go back at least a year prior to your application date.
- You shouldn’t delay in filing an appeal or submitting evidence.
You have limited time to request an appeal and submit evidence. If you fail to appeal on time, you may lose your claim. If you fail to submit evidence or notify SSA about any outstanding evidence later than 5 business days before a hearing, Social Security may not be required to consider the evidence.
- You shouldn’t withhold information about your financial situation that could affect your eligibility for benefits.
Social Security must consider financial issues when determining eligibility for SSDI or SSI such as unemployment, Worker’s Compensation, income, inheritance, or homelessness. If your financial situation changes during your case, you may be required to notify SSA. Failure to properly notify them could delay your claim, result in accidental overpayment, or in some cases, lead to criminal charges.
- You shouldn’t refuse to fill out forms or answer questions.
It may be exhausting to complete forms or give testimony about your health problems, but if you refuse to answer questions, Social Security may deny your case for lack of cooperation.
In summary, to know what not to do in a disability case is to know what evidence is relevant for you. A qualified Social Security Disability Attorney can help you do this. This is because the facts are different in your case than in anyone else’s. There may be things you need to discuss that someone else may not. There may be ways of discussing particularly touchy issues that may be both more accurate and less harmful to your case.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be legal advice. Every case is different and requires its own specific legal analysis.
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