What Is A Common Mistake Claimants Make That Is Easily Fixed?

One of the most common mistakes that people applying for Social Security disability benefits make is being overly vague. No attorney or Administrative Law Judge expects you to be the next Stephen King, recalling everything in immaculate detail, but in my opinion this is one area where clients hurt themselves and it is very easily corrected if you realize the mistake and the problems that it can cause.

When I meet my client for the first time the interview is very detailed as I want to fully understand what the person's disabilities are, how their daily activities are restricted, how often they are affected by their conditions and basically get an overall understanding as to how this person is affected by their medical condition(s). The overwhelming majority of people answer questions very vaguely. For instance, I may ask a person how often they have difficulty sleeping at night. A common response to a question like this is "sometimes," "often" or "from time to time."

When they do this, I immediately get to work on changing the way that person answers those types of questions. You see, I know that if I really have no idea how often the problem(s) exist then I know that if the case were to go to hearing that there is no way an Administrative Law Judge will know either. You have to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are disabled and unable to work. I am not asking or even hinting that you should lie or exaggerate. But, there's a significant difference in saying "sometimes," and in saying "three times a week," or "five times a month."

The same applies when you complete the initial application to apply for Social Security disability or the forms that Social Security requests that you complete such as the Work History Report or Adult Function Reports. If you answer questions vaguely on those forms then there is no way for a disability examiner to truly understand what limits your ability to work.

When speaking in frequency, you should always try to attach a number of occurrences that the event or problem happens in a day, week, month or year. What often happens is that because you have been living with this impairment or problem for a period of time you begin to get used to it and feel almost like others will understand. The problem is, the majority of time, others do not understand. The definition of "sometimes" to you may mean a few times a week, whereas to someone else it may mean once a month.

It is important to keep in mind when talking to anyone about your disabilities how it affects you and how often it does. Assume that the person (whether it be your attorney, a doctor or an Administrative Law Judge) who is asking you about your disability knows NOTHING about it, what the symptoms are and how often they affect you.


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