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The Importance of a Complete Medical Record in Disability Hearings

Posted on in Social Security Disability

Chicago disability benefits lawyer, disability hearings, complete medical record, disability applicants, disability caseOne of the most important steps you can take when applying for Social Security Disability insurance benefits is to present as complete a medical record as possible to the agency officials reviewing your case. The more documentation you can provide from your treating physicians, the stronger your case for disability benefits will be.

Judge Criticizes Social Security for Ignoring “Overwhelming Majority of the Evidence” in Disability Case

Of course, this assumes Social Security will actually bother to look at the evidence that you provide. As we have seen in far too many Illinois disability claims, that is sadly often not the case, however. In their zeal to clear large case backlogs—and deny as many claims as possible—Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) will simply overlook or fail to assess credible medical evidence.

Consider one recent example of this problem. The plaintiff in this case applied for disability benefits almost five years ago. She has numerous ailments that render her unable to work. As relevant here, she has a long history of shoulder problems dating back to car accident several years before she sought disability. This injury was later exacerbated by a tear in her rotator cuff.

Before a Social Security ALJ, the plaintiff presented an extensive medical history of her shoulder impairments. This included both her own subjective complaints regarding symptoms as well as objective medical documentation, such as ultrasounds, physical therapy, and injections she received from her treating physician to manage her pain.

Despite all of this, the ALJ ultimately found that the plaintiff's shoulder injuries, combined with her other impairments, did not rise to the level of a legal disability. But on appeal, a federal judge found the ALJ did not properly assess the full scope of the evidence pertaining to the shoulder impairment. To the contrary, the judge said the ALJ's report failed to even mention, much less discuss, the “overwhelming majority of the evidence” on this point. This in turn “deprived the Court of any means to assess his reasoning process” on appeal.

As a result, the judge returned the case to Social Security for a new hearing. To be clear, the judge did not say that the plaintiff's shoulder impairment qualified her for disability benefits—or even that the ALJ's decision was incorrect. Rather, the judge said the ALJ had an obligation to properly consider all of the medical evidence presented by the plaintiff and present a clearer explanation for his reasoning.

Getting Help With Your SSDI Claim

It is frustrating for disability applicants, who often have to spend years waiting for a decision on their claim for benefits, to have an ALJ fail to properly do his or her job. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer who can guide you through the process. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 if you are thinking about applying for SSDI benefits and need advice on how to proceed.



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