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Practical Suggestions

What is Important:

In simple terms, you will need to provide information about the medical problems you have that interfere with your ability to work. Social Security evaluators will make their determination based upon the relevant rules and regulations and the information in your medical records.

It is very important that you provide complete addresses and names of your medical providers. Social Security will request copies of your records from your doctors and this process will go more quickly if they have an accurate address.

Be honest and straightforward when you describe your problems. Be careful not to exaggerate. Sometimes Social Security workers will be offended by obvious exaggerations and will write comments in the file that will negatively influence later decision makers.

What is not important:

It is not particularly helpful to put down every conceivable detail you can think of. Sometimes people will agonize for hours or days about what wording they should use in response to the questions on the forms. The idea seems to be that if you say it just right then you are more likely to be approved.

Generally, it does not work that way. Social Security will make its decision not on what you say but rather on what is in the medical records and the relevant federal regulations. They do need to know what your problems are so that they are pointed in the right direction. But if you say, for example, that you have a back problem, they will get your medical records and then evaluate your ability to lift, stand, walk, and sit. This is the same as what they would do if you said. “I have an L4-5 right sided paracentral disc protrusion, narrowing of the neural foramina, and nerve root impingement.” Either way, they obtain your records, have their medical evaluators look at them, and then make a decision.

Dealing with Social Security Personnel:

When dealing with people at Social Security always be polite. This can sometimes be hard to do considering the financial pressures that most claimants have. But keep in mind that by and large most people at Social Security care about what they do and are trying to do their job as best as they can. It just is not helpful to create additional problems for the Social Security personnel.

If you are sent out for an examination by a Social Security consulting doctor, be very honest with the doctor and be careful not to exaggerate your problems. The Social Security doctors are typically a skeptical bunch and seem programmed to not believe the claimant’s estimate of his or her limitations. So if the doctor senses any exaggeration by the claimant it will be highlighted in the report. Just be honest, straightforward, and cooperative and you will avoid these problems.