Approval rates for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) applications continue to decline, and will continue to do so as the Social Security Administration continues to enact regulations that increase the evidentiary burden for claimants. One strategy may be to bury the State agency with paper.
I represent a 52 year old former OB/GYN with neck and mental impairments, whose SSD application was approved today. We had submitted objective diagnostic test results and disability opinion evaluations, and the State agency responded by insisting that the claimant attend a consultative examination. However, after submitting over 800 pages of medical records, regardless of their relevance to the claimant’s impairments, the SSD application was approved.
I have had judges and State agency analysts complain about the “paucity” of medical records in a file, even when they are highly relevant. It is as if there is an unwritten rule that a quantity minimum exists, but such a rule that promotes form over substance makes no sense. For example, if a diagnostic test reveals metastatic cancer, there is no need for additional medical evidence.
There are many unwritten rules in the SSD process. Another example is that while the law explicitly precludes an ALJ from relying on a “sit and squirm test,” ALJ’s frequently hold hearings simply to see what a claimant looks like. In response to cases where I had submitted very strong evidence, I have even had ALJ say that they just wanted to see the claimant. Bottom line is that unwritten rules exist, and that includes a perception that a claim must be supported with significant amount of documentation, regardless of its relevance. This is another example of why it is so important to retain a Social Security attorney when applying for SSD benefits.Previous Next
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