Step 1: Identify all of your conditions
Make a list of all of your physical and psychological conditions such as high blood pressure, vision or hearing problems, breathing problems, problems with your hands, depression, anxiety, etc.
Although individual conditions may not be severe enough to be considered disabling, in combination they may be severe enough to keep you from working. Sometimes people leave off conditions because they don’t consider them to be severe or may be embarrassed about certain conditions. Include everything.
Step 2: Identity your symptoms
Symptoms are the physical and/or emotional effects resulting from your conditions. Examples of symptoms would be: shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, pain, difficulty sleeping,
difficulty walking, standing, sitting, reaching, stooping, kneeling, crouching, etc. Also include side effects from your medications such as nausea, diarrhea, headaches, etc.
Step 3: Identify how your symptoms limit your daily activities
Take each symptom in step 2 and describe how each limits your daily activities. Social Security will allow you to explain these limitation on their SSA-3373-BK form.
Example 1: Because of the pain in my lower back, I cannot lift more than 5 lbs., bend or stoop without pain, cook without having to sit down after a few minutes, put on my clothes without difficulty.
Example 2: My depression interferes with my ability to stay focused and on task, interact with friends or family, get along with strangers, go out in public, harmful intrusive thoughts, fatigue.
Example 3: My seizures inhibit my ability to work around machinery, drive a car, climb ladders or scaffolds.
Example 4: Because of my anxiety, I cannot leave my home except to go to medical appointments, I can’t shop, go to church, interact with strangers, be in stressful situations, etc.
Step 4: Identify why you can’t do your past work
Most jobs require you to perform some sort of repetitive activities whether they are assembly jobs, services jobs, and even office jobs. In order to get approved you have to prove that you are unable to perform any jobs that you’ve done in the last 15 years.
Example 1: Most people that have worked office jobs usually develop some sort of repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Example 2: Diabetic neuropathy would interfere with your ability to walk, stand, use foot controls, and also limit the frequency upon which you can reach, handle, finger, or manipulate small objects with your hands.
Example 3: Severe back problems could reasonably limit the number of hours you could sit during a typical 8 hour workday.
Step 5: Identify what tests you’ll need to document your conditions
Research your conditions and determine what tests you’ll need your doctor to perform to properly document your claim.
Example 1: Rheumatoid arthritis is documented by blood tests that document the level of the RH factor in your blood.
Example 2: MRIs are the standard for documenting musculoskeletal injuries of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions.
Example 3: X-Rays are generally ordered to document joint disorders such as problems with your knees or shoulders.
Step 6: Get and maintain treatment
Disability cases are won on documentation. If you neglect treatment for whatever reason, it is much easier for Social Security to deny your claim.
Step 7: Document your file
If your doctor refers you to a rheumatologist or orthopedic specialist, go if you can afford to do so. An opinion form a specialist holds much more weight with Social Security than the opinion of your primary general practitioner.
Step 8: Get a medical source statement from your doctor
Your advocate can give you the appropriate form(s) to take to your medical provider(s) to document the condition(s) using the correct Social Security requirements.
Step 9: Make sure SSA has all of your records
Whether your are represented or going solo, the agency can’t make a proper determination without all of your relevant medical records. Call your adjudicator or inquire with your advocate to make sure he/she has a complete list of your providers.
Step 10: Hire an advocate to help you put it all together
Although possible, it is a proven fact that clients with representation have a much higher chance of having their disability claims approved. At Southeastern Disability our representatives and staff have the experience and expertise to pull all of your records together and create a plan to help you win your disability claim.