Q: What are some ways to speed up my disability case?
That is an excellent question. I would say that is the biggest goal that most of my clients have. The biggest point I have to make with most people is the following: is your goal simply to speed up your case, or is your goal to win your case? Given that the goal is to win in the fastest manner possible, we have to always focus on winning. Hurrying up to lose is a bad strategy. So what is going to make us win and achieve that goal?
The best way to move your case forward as quickly as possible is to get treatment. Social Security regulations require people to get treatment to document their disabilities. It is very important to get medical treatment to document each condition. Treatment is just a fancy way of saying “see the doctor”. I always advise my clients to make sure you are seeing a doctor for every condition that keeps you from working. You need to get treating doctor supportfor the case. This means having the doctor explain how each medical condition is limiting you in the workplace, and connecting the dots between those issues. For example, if you have depression, how is the depression keeping you from working? One person can be depressed and the depression might not affect their condition in the workplace, whereas another person’s depression can have a serious, profound effect that will keep them from working and can even prevent them from showing up to work. So there needs to be a connect-the-dots from the medical condition to how it prevents the person from working. That is where the treating doctor report is so important. A lot of people make the mistake of getting a treating doctor to say a person “is disabled.” A letter or report with these words alone is useless to Social Security because it really does not connect the dots. It does not explain how or why a person cannot work. So that is not going to win the case, and it is not going to speed up the case. There needs to be a letter from a treating doctor that explains how the condition actually prevents a person from working — the back pain, the depression, the Lupus, the fibromyalgia, or whatever the condition preventing work is.
There is another important consideration for speeding up and winning your case, and that is staying off illegal drugs and alcohol. Illegal drug use or excessive alcohol use is going to make it harder to win your case, and it is going to make it a slower and longer process. Social Security regulations really make this an important part of your disability case, and they make it something that Social Security is allowed to look into. If someone is using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, that can really slow down a case. Abstaining from illegal drugs and alcohol is absolutely essential for disability applicants.
Cooperation is another big way to help your case go quickly. Disability applicants need to return the forms Social Security wants returned, provide requested information, and keep their personal information updated. Oftentimes when a case is taking a long time, the applicant is causing the delay by failing to provide certain information, forms, or contact information to the Social Security Administration. This is something that needs to be kept in mind, because these obvious mistakes will delay a case. Things that can actually cause a case to take longer are bullying Social Security, threatening Social Security, or missing scheduled appointments. Be sure to avoid those mistakes. That is my advice on speeding up disability cases.