April 24, 2019

Mistakes to Avoid in your SSD Case – Interview with attorney Jonathan Pearson

Winning Strategies for Federal Court Appeals

Winning Strategies at the Social Security Disability Appeals Council

Seven Activities You Should Avoid After Filing for Social Security Disability

Am I Sick Enough to Win Social Security Disability Benefits

 

How Long Does it Take for Social Security to Decide my Disability Claim

Episode 59 – What Does it Mean When the Judge Continued my Case?

Episode 59 Show Notes

In this episode I answer a question from Cheryl, who used the “Send a Voice Message to Jonathan” button on this site to contact me.  Cheryl wants to know if it is a positive or negative sign that the judge continued her recent hearing so she and her lawyer could obtain additional medical records.  She also wants to know how long she may have to wait for a reset hearing.

Resources mentioned in this episode include:

If you have a comment about my answer or about hearing continuances, please post your comment on Twitter, using hashtag #ssdradio59.

Episode 58 – How to Explain Your Daily Activities to the Judge

“What do you do with yourself on an average day?”  You can expect to hear this question from your Social Security disability judge.   Does the judge expect you to testify that you spend your days moaning in pain, zonked out on pain medications and unable to dress yourself or prepare simple meals?  Is it okay to state that you drive to the store or to pick up your kids from school?

At what point does normal daily activity start to look like a work equivalent, and thus result in a conclusion that you are not disabled?

My experience has been that if a judge rules against you, he will point to your testimony about daily activities as evidence that you do have the capacity to perform simple, entry-level work.  This means that you need to think about how you will answer questions about your daily routine so that the judge understands how that routine is impacted by your medical condition.

I advise my clients to include limitations in their explanation of activities, for example:

“I do go to the grocery store but I only go when I know that the store won’t be crowded so I can get in and out quickly.  I use the motorized cart to go up and down the aisles and I let the grocery bagger take my bags to the car.  When I get home, my neighbor’s kids unload the bags and take it into my kitchen and they help put the groceries in the refrigerator or pantry.”

“I have to prepare my own meals but I do not cook anymore because last time I tried, I fell asleep and almost burned the house down. Now I make only cold sandwiches and whatever I can microwave.”

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Social Security Disability Hearing Tip: Make Yourself More Believable

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As you prepare for your Social Security disability hearing, put yourself in the shoes of your judge.  Every day 5 to 7 claimants come before you asking for disability benefits.  Every one of them says that they cannot work and that they are in pain 24/7.

As a judge you know that if you approve someone, that person will likely collect benefits from the government for years, and sometimes for many years.  Your supervisors locally and in Washington are pressuring you to limit your approvals because the SSD trust fund is running out of money and members of Congress are telling anyone who will listen that the Social Security disability program is rife with fraud and incompetent (or corrupt) judges.

You also know that judges with higher than average approval rates are getting squeezed out – and you need this job because it pays well and provides great benefits.

How do you decide which claimants are truly deserving of one of these coveted favorable decisions?

As an attorney for clients seeking disability benefits, I serve as an advocate – I want my clients to win.  But from the minute I accept representation I try to look at each of my cases as if I was the judge.  Is the medical evidence compelling?  Does the claimant given up trying to get better in favor of an “attitude of entitlement?”  Is there evidence in the file to suggest that this claimant is not entirely truthful?

In this video, I talk a lot about credibility and believability and demonstrate through an example about how the same fact pattern can either enhance your status or damage your case – all a function of how you present those facts.

Make no mistake, Social Security has made it much more difficult to win approvals – so you and your lawyer need to be equally prepared by avoiding mistakes that raise even a small question in your judge’s mind.

The 15 Minute Social Security Disability Hearing: Good News or Big Problem?

What should you do if your Social Security disability hearing lasts only 15 minutes?  Does a short hearing mean that you won?  Does an quick hearing mean that the judge plans to deny your case?   How should you and your lawyer prepare for this rare but possible situation?

In this video I discuss the 15 minute hearing – what it likely means and how to best protect yourself if the judge is new and his/her reputation is unknown.

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