Reporting All Your Symptoms to Your Doctor Can Save Your Social Security Disability Case

April 3, 2023

To be granted Social Security Disability benefits, it is not enough to say you can’t work due to health problems. It is not even enough to have your doctor say you have a disability.

To win your disability case, you must prove that the symptoms of your medical condition prevent you from holding a job.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) relies on accurate and complete medical records from doctors, clinics, and hospitals to determine how severe a physical or mental condition is.

Although Social Security will likely consider many kinds of evidence in deciding your case, they will place a significant weight on the written medical records maintained by your doctor. Therefore, it is critical that you see your doctors regularly, follow their advice, and that you take any prescribed medications.

It is equally important to keep your doctor updated about all the adverse symptoms you are experiencing, even if you have symptoms that are not directly related to the primary impairment in your disability case.

Here’s an example: A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ), who is empowered to make the decision to award or deny disability benefits, may read a primary care note, and it says something like “psychiatric: normal.” And then they find that a person’s mental health condition is not as severe as they alleged.

Or you may have a cardiologist who focuses on your heart health and doesn’t document back pain so the ALJ finds that the pain is not significant.

We know this may not make sense, but it happens. Social Security is required by law to consider all your impairments when deciding your case, so report all your impairments to all your doctors.

If it seems like your doctor isn’t aware of a particular symptom and isn’t assessing it at a visit, it’s entirely possible that they aren’t. Don’t be afraid to bring it to their attention.

Between appointments, call your doctor’s office to report any current symptoms that have worsened or any new symptoms that may have developed.

Also, keep a disability journal—a log that tracks all your symptoms, how the symptoms affect your day-to-day living, and what you do to manage them.

This journal will serve two purposes: It will help reinforce the medical records, tests, and statements from your health care providers which you will submit to prove to Social Security that your disability prevents you from working, and it will serve to remind you to share the details of your symptoms with your doctor during your next appointment.

If you have ongoing symptoms, mention them at every visit to your doctor. Even though it may seem like you are repeating yourself, if you fail to mention your symptoms, your doctor may assume incorrectly that your condition has improved, and Social Security may deny your claim.

In addition, let your doctor know right away if you are experiencing any side effects of your prescribed medications.

Not only will this prompt the doctor to look for other medications to treat your condition, but also, by law, Social Security is obligated to consider the side effects of any prescribed medications in determining your eligibility for disability benefits.

Be aware that Social Security is not considering whether a medication may cause a particular side effect. What SSA considers is whether you, in fact, experience those side effects.

That is why it is so important to report those side effects to your doctor, and to write them in your journal.

The path to winning Social Security Disability benefits is often confusing and difficult to navigate, but the experienced Chicago disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law are here by your side to get you through the process.

We will present the strongest possible case for you to get the benefits you have rightfully earned. Contact the disability lawyers at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your case.