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How to Win Your Disability Claim

Instead of applying online, we recommend you call your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office for an in-person interview. The Claims Representative will notice things like how hard it is for you to talk or to remember things or to walk. He or she may also ask you follow-up questions to the standard ones in the online Application. Also, an SSI claim cannot be filed online, only Social Security Disability ones.

List ALL your medical problems, even ones you think are unimportant. Provide details and examples of how you have to modify daily tasks compared to when you were healthy. Explain how long it takes you to do activities now plus what you are unable to do and why.

Read SSA's forms carefully and do not leave any sections unanswered. (Call us if you have questions on how to fill out these forms.)

Go to any Consultative Exams scheduled by SSA or Disability Determination Services. Do not exaggerate your problems, but at the same time, do not leave out aches and pains you deal with every day.

Hire an experienced local disability lawyer to appeal if you are denied. A Minnesota disability lawyer knows the Administrative Law Judges from Minneapolis, Fargo and Sioux Falls. A Minnesota disability lawyer knows the medical and vocational experts testifying at your hearing.

When you are shopping for a Minnesota disability lawyer, ask:

  1. Are you a lawyer or a non-attorney representative?
  2. How many years of experience do you have doing SSA appeals?
  3. Who in your office will I be working with?
  4. What will you be doing for me I can't do for myself?
  5. What do you do to prepare yourself and me for my hearing?

This last one #5 is crucial. Your lawyer has to read your entire file way ahead of time to find any missing records or anything that could destroy your credibility like lab work showing illegal drugs in your system. A week or more before your hearing, your disability lawyer should prepare you for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. This includes explaining who will be in the room with you and the purpose of the medical and vocational expert's testimony. Your disability lawyer needs to let you "practice" your testimony so you know what kind of questions the judge will ask and your lawyer knows what answers you will give. I cringe when I am in the lobby of the hearings office and overhear conversations where it is real clear the first time that lawyer has talked to his or her client is half an hour before the hearing. NOT GOOD.

Follow your disability lawyer's advice on how to make your claim stronger. This can include working with Vocational Rehabilitation, a sheltered workshop, a physical therapist, and your treating doctor.