Medical evidence is the most important thing you need to win a disability claim. Your attorney’s job is to help you gather and present to the disability judge all of the evidence s/he will need to rule in your favor. But your attorney really won’t be much help unless there is actual evidence to use. Here’s what you need to know about the records you need:
Dates for Your Medical Records
The dates for the medical records you retrieve are important. If you have a very specific onset date (for example, the date you had a heart attack, stroke, or accident), then you will definitely need at least all records beginning on that date. If your condition has worsened over a long period of time, then you don’t necessarily need to provide records of your first diagnosis. But you will need to provide records showing the decline for a decent amount of time. It is also helpful if you can point to a specific doctor’s visit around the time you became too sick to work.
It is important to make and keep a list of the dates you first began to see each doctor, and the last date you have seen them, and any upcoming appointments you might have. You must have this information for the many forms you have to fill out during the process. Make sure you keep your attorney updated with this information.
Before you go to your hearing, updated records must be gathered to show that your condition is ongoing. Your attorney may ask you to visit your doctors about six weeks prior to your hearing, or sign a fresh release form so that they can request the records directly. It is very important that you keep in contact with your attorneys throughout the pendency of your case, to keep them updated about new treatments and doctor visits.
Types of Records You Need
You should gather from your doctor’s offices the following types of records:
1. Records of historical visits containing doctor’s notes and clinic exams.
2. Records of any laboratory and/or imaging tests.
3. Records of prescribed treatment.
4. Records of surgeries, hospital visits, and emergency room visits.
5. A list of prescriptions from your pharmacy (have one printed out for you at every visit, to show changes over time).
6. Physical or Mental Functional Capacity reports – speak to your physician about whether s/he is comfortable with filling this out for you, due to your disability.
Some disabilities require specific tests. Sometimes the Social Security Administration will administer these tests at their expense. If you need more information about specific tests needed in your case, or want to know whether the administration will pay for them, contact our office at 334-356-7879.
The Kind of Doctors You Need
Most people who struggle with their healthcare have a hard time getting to see a physician, much less a specialist. However usually a specialist’s opinion is necessary to sustain a claim for disability. When you visit your regular physician, you really need to ask to see a specialist who handles your specific type of disability. Be firm with your physician, sometimes they will not want to refer, but it is the best way you will win your case.
The Social Security Administration accepts medical evidence from licensed doctors, nurse practitioners, optometrists and podiatrists, psychiatrists and psychologists, physical therapists, and certain other medical healthcare professionals. Chiropractic care is not enough on its own to establish a claim for disability, but can help if the treatment records support other evidence. Supporting records might also come from employers, statements of friends and family members, and other alternative healthcare providers. But again, records from licensed healthcare professionals are required.
Sometimes, the social security administration will send you to see doctors of their choosing, for an opinion on your medical conditions. These doctors, to put it bluntly, are not usually the best physicians. They often depend on their income from these examinations, and their opinions can be very slanted against the disability claimant. Some of them however, are fine people and good physicians, so you shouldn’t form an opinion of them before you go.
The best way to handle a consultative examination is to just be open and honest. Be upfront about your limitations, but do not be overly dramatic about them either. Just be straightforward and direct. For example, if the examiner asks you, “How are you doing?” don’t reply with “fine” if you are not in fact ‘fine’. Tell the examiner about your illnesses and limitations. But if the examiner asks you to bend over and touch your toes, give it your best try. He will be able to tell if you are faking. Just be yourself, and you’ll be fine.
What if You Don’t Have a Doctor?
Unfortunately, so far the governors of the State of Alabama have refused to expand Medicaid to people who need healthcare but cannot afford it. Until such time as Medicaid is expanded in Alabama, you will need to rely on sliding scale care. Here is where you can find a list of clinics that provide sliding scale care in Alabama: https://www.freeclinics.com/sta/alabama
We strongly encourage you to call, write, or email the governor’s office to ask that she expand Medicare in Alabama. Many people in your situation would be able to return to work if they could get access to healthcare, which would result in the state making more money and would actually be a benefit to taxpayers. You are a blessing, not a burden, and you deserve healthcare! Go to this webpage to find links to call or email the governor’s office:
Or you can write to the governor here:
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130
Or call (334) 242-7100.
And encourage your friends and family to contact the governor’s office as well!
Thanks again for choosing Cook and Associates to help with your disability claim. Call our office at 334-356-7879 if you require further assistance.