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What is the most important aspect of a Social Security case? Depending on who you ask, you’re going to get a lot of different answers. The Social Security Administration will probably tell you that work credits are important. They aren’t wrong, work credits are very important, and can make a big difference in your case. Lawyers will probably tell you that evidence is the most important aspect of any social security case. Can’t really argue with them, they’re lawyers, and they make a good point; the evidence is very important to prove a disability. But I don’t work for the SSA, and I’m not a lawyer, so what do I think is the most important part of a Social Security case? A disability case, like every aspect of life, can’t exist without communication. Today I am going to argue my point.
Before we really start, I must admit I have a biased view. There’s a piece of paper hanging in my living room from West Virginia University that says I think communication is so important, that I decided to study it at the graduate level. While learning about cultivation theory was a lot of fun, studying communications has helped me in numerous ways in my everyday life. Communicating effectively to me is almost like a superpower. While I feel that I am an excellent communicator, I recognize that it’s a huge problem in the world of social security. So, why is communication so important to a social security case? Let’s find out.
When I started writing this blog I did a quick impromptu poll of my coworkers who work in our social security line of business. Most of them are non-attorney reps and have at least 4 years experience. About 90% of them stated that evidence was the most important aspect of a case. They’re so passionate about evidence that I’m afraid they may beat me up once this blog goes live. I will agree that medical evidence is the most important tangible aspect of a case. Medical records, written reports, and so on will make or break a case. However, the greatest medical evidence in the world means nothing if we can’t communicate with our clients. We will dive deeper into this aspect of effective communications later in this blog, but let’s break down the medical evidence argument first.
So, you say the medical evidence is important? Ok, how does an individual get medical evidence for a case? They have to visit a medical doctor or healthcare professional. Even if you go to the best doctor in the world, he or she can’t effectively treat you if you can’t communicate your problems to them. One of the fascinating things I studied in graduate school pertained to communication apprehension. Simply, communication apprehension is fear or anxiety associated with communication with another person or group of people.
Are you like me; do you hate going to the doctor? Do you also downplay your pain, injuries or disabilities? That is a textbook example of communication apprehension. It makes sense to fear to discuss medical issues with a doctor. After all, these are the people who diagnose individuals with life-threatening diseases and perform surgery. A lot of us allow this fear we have with doctors to keep us from telling them the extent of our pain or injuries. So, if you aren’t communicating with your doctor properly, then your medical evidence isn’t going to be that strong, and you’re likely going to have a harder time getting a favorable decision then if you were completely honest.
Not communicating with a doctor is one way in which I can argue that communication is the most important part of a Social Security case, but I want to further my argument. Speaking of arguments, can you guess which profession, besides doctors, has a big issue with communication apprehension? People view attorneys the same way they view doctors. That means that a lot of people, especially individuals pursuing social security, are going to be apprehensive when interacting with their attorneys or with their support staff. The reason for this comes from the media. When most of us think of attorneys, we think of the characters we see on TV. Most people recall scenes from A Few Good Men, or Law & Order. Those productions tend to be highly dramatic and exaggerate the courtroom setting. In reality, the attorneys you deal with in a social security case are far more approachable than you would find in a murder trial. It’s a completely different type of law. After all, we are trying to help people. Eventually, our clients realize this after they’ve interacted with us a few times, but it can be difficult at first.
Communication apprehension can be an issue for us if a client is hesitant to inform us about their disabilities. Here is an example that many can relate to: Let’s say that you’re filling out your initial application with your intake specialist. In this situation, you’re stating that your back is the reason you can’t work. When the intake specialist asks you to describe how your back affects your ability to work, you downplay your pain or give very short answers about your work history. We especially see this with male clients. We understand that you are likely nervous about your claim, but the more we know about your case, the better we can assist you.
Let’s now look at how communication impacts a social security case from the opposite end of the spectrum. You can have the best evidence in the world, but if you choose not to communicate with your attorney or the SSA, you’re going to lose. Too often we have issues getting in touch with our clients. This is especially true when it gets close to time for a hearing. We need clients to show up to hearings so that we can effectively argue their case. If we can’t get in touch with you, and if you don’t show up, then you’re going to lose.
What if you needed one great evaluation from a doctor to get approved by a judge, and didn’t let us know that you had received it recently? We can’t request records if you don’t let us know that you went to the doctor. So that great evidence is rendered useless if it can’t be submitted. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law has been representing individuals for social security claims since 1994. In that time we have learned a few things about client services. We try to make the process on our end as easy as possible. Clients can stay in touch with us numerous ways. Of course, you can call or stop by the office. But you can also email us, you can leave a message with our after-hours answering service, and you can even report updates directly to our website. We even make use of outlets like Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with our clients.
In conclusion, I will agree that evidence is one of the most important aspects of a case. However, if you aren’t communicating with your representative, your evidence may never make it to the SSA. If you’d like to know more about what the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law can do for you, call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted at a later time, fill out this form, and a representative will contact you at a more convenient time.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law