Disability Denied: Was Anything on Your Application Harmful to Your Claim?

A lack of good medical evidence can be harmful to a Social Security disability claim.

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If you've been denied on your disability claim, consider what you did -- or didn't do -- that led to the denial. In most cases, it's not that you wrote something on your application that hurt your chances, it's that there wasn't enough convincing information in your medical records to lead to an approval.

Was All of Your Medical Treatment Documented?

On the application for disability, did the you indicate all known sources of medical treatment, including the addresses of medical providers (hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices), the names of physicians providing treatment, and the dates of treatment? This type of information is extremely important. Yet despite this, a very large percentage of SSI and SSD applicants fail to provide complete and accurate treatment information on their applications.

A claimant (applicant) who has been denied disability and is about to file an appeal should be especially detailed when it comes to indicating treatment sources on the appeal forms. It's not a bad idea to send in a complete list of all the doctors and hospitals you've ever obtained treatment from even if you did so with the initial application. How far back should this list go? At least as far back as the time you estimate that your disability began, because that's how far back a disability examiner will be looking. 

Now, you may ask yourself, if I am simply appealing my denied claim, and I already submitted a complete list of my treatment sources when I originally filed my claim, why should I do this again on the appeal? The answer is, to be safe. Disability examiners do try to be conscientious when it comes to gathering your records, but it is not unheard of for them to miss a treatment source. And, it is certainly not unheard of for claimants to mistakenly believe that they submitted a complete list of sources on their disability application when, in fact, they did not.

Was There Enough Good Medical Evidence?

Another aspect that you should consider is the quality of your medical records. By quality, I mean how substantial and/or detailed a claimant's records are. While the quality of the medical reporting falls entirely within the purview of one's personal physician (in other words, a patient will have little, if any, influence, over what a doctor writes), you can mediate the quality of your medical records by maintaining regular visits to a doctor and communicating to your doctor the functional limitations caused by your illness. For example, patients with a severe back condition should point out to their physician their inability to sit or stand for prolonged periods or their inability to perform certain tasks. Provided that the doctor records such complaints into his or her treatment notes, this patient-provided information will then become part of the "medical record documentation." You can also ask your doctor to to fill out a "residual functional capacity" (RFC) form.

Learn more about what medical evidence is important in a Social Security disability claim.

Updated by: , J.D.

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