It is very important that you seek treatment, and continue receiving treatment throughout the time that you are waiting for a hearing date. This includes any doctors, specialists, primary care physicians, therapists, or anyone else that applies to your condition. It is also very important that you follow up on any referrals that you receive from medical professionals. Your doctors may be willing to send you to physical capacity testing. This testing is generally performed by a physical therapist who can provide important information about what your physical limitations may or not be. After this testing, ask your doctor to provide an opinion about whether or not they agree with it. A medical doctor's opinion is generally given more weight than a physical therapist by the SSA. Make sure when you're meeting with your doctor you are discussing how your symptoms are preventing you from working or completing your daily activities.
We want you to track your care, however we don't need to know every time you go to the doctor. More importantly we need to know when you begin care with an individual, and end care with an individual. As long as you provide us with a start and end date of treatment and the name and location of each doctor, that will be sufficient. It is not necessary to keep "After Visit Summaries" from each appointment.
If Social Security sent you to one of their doctors, use this form to record how the appointment went and to log any concerns - Claimant's Recent Medical Treatment Form
If you struggle with substance abuse, it is strongly recommended that you seek treatment as soon as possible. While substance abuse does NOT mean you can not receive benefits, the Social Security Administration will look to determine whether you would be able to work if the substance abuse were not present.
Many people feel they can't afford health insurance, but that is not true. There are state programs to help assist you. The agency expects you to be receiving treatment. If you have access to these state programs, it is in your best interest to be taking advantage of them.
Keeping a log of your symptoms is extremely helpful. It helps to write down in a journal, use a form, or use an APP to keep track of each and every time any symptom that applies to your condition occurs throughout the day. An example would be writing down each time you have a seizure, what day and time it occurred, and the severity. Other examples would be tracking every time you have a migraine, or logging the severity of your chronic pain throughout the day. For conditions such as IBS, it is helpful to track the frequency of restroom breaks.
Describe how the symptoms are preventing you from completing everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, paying bills, driving, managing medication, dressing, bathing, housekeeping, caring for children, etc.
It may be best for your family members to keep a diary as well, as they can often see subtle changes that may be happening.
Keep the journal as to the point as possible and briefly summarize the symptoms/changes.
Tracking APPS for your phone:
(You can also try searching symptom or pain trackers online, please be sure to select one that will allow you to export files or print out paper reports.)
Chronic Pain Tracker (also tracks other symptoms)
Third Party Function Report
Similar to the function report you filled out during the application stage, you can use this form to get reports from your friends and family members describing how your condition affects your day to day life. Judges tend to look favorably on these, and can be very beneficial.
Work Activity Report
This report helps disability determination services classify the type of work that you used to perform and determines whether you have any transferable skills that you are still able to contribute to the workforce. It is used to prove to Social Security whether you are any longer able to perform the duties in which you have previous training and skills for.
If you have any employment records that demonstrate a decline in performance or change in your work responsibilities due to not meeting expectations try to get copies. This can include: e-mails, formal disciplinary action or write ups. If only verbal meetings were held to discuss your work performance, you can include the date, time, staff/supervisors present and details of the discussion in your journal. Also provide a summary of work history over past 16 years including company names, addresses and telephone numbers, as well as a description of the kind of work you did.
If you have worked for a family member or a compassionate employer, use the following form to determine if the work was subsidized or was an unsuccessful work attempt under Social Security's rules. Employer Questionnaire Form
Work History Report
This forms help Social Security determine an appropriate onset date, not from a medical perspective but from a financial perspective. These reports give more details about the specific time-frames that your work and income may have been affected. It also describes any accommodations that may have been made on your behalf by an employer. Work History Report Form
You will receive a Client Questionnaire form from Social Security at some point while waiting for a hearing. Fill this out to the best of your ability. However, please note that it generally does not prompt additional review by the administration of your file.
VTC - Video Teleconferencing
SSA will send a letter asking if you want to opt out of VTC. Some locations, however, only offer the option for VTC. Anytime there is an option for a live in person hearing, that is the route we want to take. It is our general position that a live hearing is a better option. You do not need to worry about this letter as your case manager will take care of this on your behalf. If you have any opinion on the matter, please call your case manager.
Notice of Hearing
You will receive this notice about 75-90 business days before the scheduled hearing date. Once you receive this notice, you need to return the Acknowledgement of Notice of Hearing form, which will be included with the notice, to the Social Security office.
If at any time you have any changes of conditions, let your case manager know right away. And as always, call us every time you receive mail from the Social Security Office, and anytime you have a change of phone number or address so that it is easy to reach you. Also let us know of any additional contact information we can use to reach you.
SSA and OIG jointly established the CDI Program in 1998, in conjunction with State Disability and Determination Services (DDS) and State or local law enforcement agencies, to effectively pool resources and expertise and prevent fraud in SSA’s disability programs.
If someone comes to your house and claims to be Social Security, please be aware that these officers may appear at your residence or contact you to set up a meeting under the guise of investigating an issue such as identity theft. An occurrence such as this tends to be considered a pretext investigation. What they may actually be doing is evaluating you for disability. There's no way we can tell you for sure that this would be the case, but we suggest that if this happens, you request to schedule a time to discuss things with them when your attorney can be present, and do not give any information.
Schneider, Kerr & Robichaux