Two weeks before my Social Security hearing, my attorney told me that I needed a doctor’s letter to make my case stronger. (He was right!).
Unfortunately, my main doc is a Naturopath, and I learned that Social Security doesn’t give their opinion a lot if weight. My attorney said the letter needed to be from an acceptable medical source.
Fortunately, my Naturopath was in a practice with several MDs, and I had been with the practice for three years, so I was able to make an appointment with an MD who was already familiar with my case and had access to my medical records.
I called the doctor to set up and appointment, and he asked me to bring a sample letter with my medical information. I started with a sample letter from a guidebook and made a list of all the information from my medical records (medical history, diagnosis, treatment, testing, test outcomes). I emailed this ahead of time.
With less than two weeks until my hearing, my friend drove me five hours to another state to see the MD. By the time I got to the office, the doctor had already reviewed my file and my email. After my consultation, he signed his letter and – voila! – I had what I needed. I carried that precious letter all the way home and handed it in person to my sucky attorney.
My attorney was a lousy communicator. Before my hearing, I discovered there were a lot of missing medical records. I had to scramble to get files from each doctor – a lot of phone calls and physically running down the records myself.
My advice: Make sure you’re on top of things and don’t be a dummy and assume the attorney is going to get it done. It was a very stressful time, but ultimately I got it all done myself.
At the hearing, I had medical records from ten different docs over six years. But it turned out the most important evidence I had, the one thing that weighed the most heavily in the judge’s decision, was that single letter from my doctor. At the end of my hearing, the judge gave me a fully favorable decision right on the spot.
I got approved for Fibromyalgia, Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Cardiac Arrhythmia, Bursitis, Orthostasis, and Chronic Fatigue. Although I was also diagnosed with Lyme Disease, this was not mentioned in my doctor’s letter.
In case you missed the most important point of this story: Daisy’s lawyer waited until TWO WEEKS before her hearing to tell her that her medical records weren’t strong enough and she was seeing the wrong kind of doctor.
Daisy was smart and persistent and turned things around, but most stories like this do not have a happy ending. Please don’t expect that your lawyer will tell you everything you need to know to win your case. Collect and read your medical records and learn as much as you can for yourself: Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability.