In my personal experience, the most common reason clients are approved for disability benefits is not because of a particular single disease, or because they are blind in one eye, or have an arthritic left leg, but that the combined effect of all their impairments prevents the performance of any work on a regular and continuing basis. In other words, we will win if we can prove that your capacity to perform even a simple, entry-level job has been so reduced by your medical problems that you would not be a reliable employee 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
This means that even if you were able to perform a job for a day or two, you would experience an episode of pain, for example, or fatigue, or illness, that would force you to take too many unscheduled breaks or cause you to miss three or four days per month.
Under ideal circumstances, where medical records clearly indicate the scope of the difficulties a person has in day-to-day living, proving this is not difficult.
More commonly, the medical record is not quite complete, or consists of cut-and-paste repetitions of past medical notes, and adds little of value to the record. In two identical cases of disability, where one is well-documented and the other is not, the well-documented case has a much better chance of success.
In our experience, you can greatly increase your chances at winning by asking your doctor to complete a functional capacity form that identifies specific activity limitations which arise from your medical condition. At Clauson Law Firm, we maintain a library full of these functional capacity forms that we customize and send to treating doctors. Knowing which form to send and knowing the doctors in the community are just two of the reasons why calling Vaughn Clauson law firm is the right choice for you.
What to do if the Judge Denies Your Case at a Hearing
In the majority of cases in which claims are denied by an Administrative Law Judge (”ALJ”), there are usually issues that can be raised in appeal. It is important to appeal, for several reasons.
First, appealing your denial protects your rights to the benefits in the event that the Appeals Council issues an order for a new hearing. Without appeal, you will never again have a chance to receive the back benefits that were at issue in the unfavorable decision.
Second, an appeal gives your attorney an opportunity to correct any mistakes that the ALJ may have made. It also gives your attorney an opportunity to correct mistakes that he may have made in presenting your case, such as failing to get records, or failing to get statements about your disability from your treating doctors. Even competent attorneys make mistakes, and clients often overlook informing their attorney about a treatment source until the day of the hearing.
Third, appealing an unfavorable hearing decision puts the ALJ and Social Security on notice that your attorney, and you, are not about to give up on pursuing the matter.