Pursuing your Social Security disability claim will be a slow, complicated, and sometimes frustrating process. A misstep on your part can destroy your case and result in the denial of benefits, even though they are benefits that you have rightfully earned.
The right communication with your lawyer at the right time can mean the difference between success and failure. Now that you have hired a professional to advocate for you, when should you contact them?
It will be nearly impossible to win your case without current medical records, so continue to see all of your health care providers so there is up-to-date information to support your case. On some level it’s fair to say that the government “helps those who help themselves,” meaning in order to prove that you can’t work because of your illness you have to first prove that you’ve taken reasonable steps to treat that illness. This is a rational way for them to look at it. So it just makes good sense to try your best to follow prescribed treatment.
It is also a good idea to keep a journal to record the details of all your medical appointments, but it is not necessary to speak with your attorney after every appointment unless your attorney advises you otherwise. But it is critically important that you let your lawyer’s office know when you see a new doctor or other healthcare professional. Tell your attorney if there is a major change in your treatment, if you suffer an injury unrelated to your disability claim, if your doctor releases you from treatment, or if you go to the hospital. There is no way for your lawyer to simply “look it up” – you must tell them.
The rules governing employment and disability claims are very complex, so tell your lawyer if you start working again even if you are only working part-time. This can have an impact on your case. Also, let your attorney know if you receive any letters from SSA or if you receive other correspondence from the government or insurance companies that you don’t understand. Finally, it is critical that you notify your attorney of any change in your address or phone number so they can keep you up-to-date on the progress of your case, and so that they can notify SSA of the change.