The following is taken from my ebook series on Social Security Disability from my perspective handling cases in Missouri and Arkansasa.
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The Negatives in your Social Security disability case a/k/a The Case Killers Every ALJ has his or her own things that they do not like in a case. This is where a disability lawyer who practices in that ODAR can be helpful. Here are a few major ones I see across Missouri and Arkansas hearings I have had:
Poor work history.
You need a reasonable explanation of why.
Filing for unemployment while waiting for your hearing.
ALJ’s take a much harder view of this than in years past. They used to accept “my family needed the money” much more readily. By filing a claim for unemployment benefits you are signing a document with the State of Missouri or Arkansas stating you are ready, willing and able to work. Filing a claim for SSA benefits you are signing a document with the Federal government that says, “I can’t work”.
Going to school.
If you are a full time student or approaching full time, an ALJ is likely to assume you can work.
Wages after onset date of disability or Working part time.
If you made money working after you claim you became disabled there will be questions the judge has for you to answer. For example, sometimes it is deferred pay such as commission payments that you were paid after you quit working. While the standard SGA amount of monthly income ($1070 in 2014, $1090 in $2015) is a hard cap, part time work can be difficult to explain away. If you get over 15-20 hours a week of part time work regardless of how much you make, this could be trouble. Working while waiting for the appeal will certainly be an issue if your part time work is a physical job and you are claiming physical limitations. If you are digging ditches 20 hours a week it is not unreasonable to assume you could do 40 hours of something easier physically.
Not following doctor’s advice.
If your doctor says to quit smoking, you need to try. (I frequently appear in front an ALJ who absolutely hates when this is in the file and there is no documented effort to quit) Take the medication as prescribed. Don’t take other people’s medication. Show up to Physical Therapy and give your best efforts.
Skipping appointments for the doctor.
If you must miss an appointment, reschedule before you miss. By missing you are telling the ALJ you are fine. If finances are an issue, call the doctors office and explain so there is documentation of why you couldn’t make it. Consistent car trouble will not be an acceptable excuse.
If you are a Medicaid patient and miss an appointment, some doctors, including many specialists, will not reschedule you. Some specialist only see Medicaid patients 1 or 2 days a month, so if you miss it could hurt your case.
Gaps in your medical treatment
As I’ve discussed countless times in this report, few things are worse. Document (keep copies of your applications and letters) your attempts to find treatment if nothing else. This may be beneficial for short-term gaps in the medical file. Taking care of small children without significant help from family or friends
If you are able to take care of a toddler or two, this indicates you could do something to many ALJ’s.
The ALJ will likely believe you could work at a day care for instance. Drugs and Alcohol You need to be able to explain your pattern of drug / alcohol use and any periods of sobriety or relapse. If there are negative things in your records deal with them. In my experience with many of the local Springfield Missouri judges, lying about drug use when there is a positive drug screen in your file is worse than the drug screen itself. It’s about your credibility. I’ve seen cases where clients admit to drug use in their far past that have actually improved their cases because they told the truth and could have easily lied as there was no drug test to the contrary.
Also, taking medication (positive drug screen) that is not yours falls into this category. Don’t do it.
The Krebs Law Firm LLC offers a free case evaluation if you have questions about your Social Security disability claim. Many people may be worried that they do not have the money to pay for a Missouri disability lawyer or Arkansas or Missouri Social Security disability lawyer, but we only handle Social Security cases on a contingent fee basis. In other words, there is no fee unless we are successful in getting you the SSD benefits that you deserve. If you would like to speak to Jason Krebs and his staff simply call (417) 883-5886 for your free case evaluation or to discuss your appeal today! Do not delay as you only have 60 days to file for an appeal in Missouri or ask for a reconsideration if you live in Arkansas or Oklahoma.
Also, if you are wondering if location is an issue, I personally handle disability cases throughout all of Missouri and Arkansas.