Inconsistent Statements and Medical Treatment Can Destroy Your Disability Claim
This should be a surprise to no one: a successful disability benefits hearing outcome depends on you and whether or not the Administrative Law Judge, who will preside at your hearing, truly believes you cannot work due to a disability. Your attorney will apply all of their skill to fully develop your case, to present your story in the most compelling fashion, and to use their knowledge of the law to vigorously represent you, but none of this will count for much, if the ALJ doubts your credibility. Your personal credibility becomes even more important with disability claims based conditions like fibromyalgia, mental illness, chronic pain, or any ailment which lacks objective medical evidence like MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, etc.
In our experience, the surest way for claimants to destroy their credibility is with inconsistent statements and haphazard medical treatments.
In the process of qualifying for disability benefits you first must prove you have a medically determinable condition, that is, you must have test results (from x-rays, lab tests, ultrasounds, or the like) or you must have statements from medical professionals which document your condition. Lacking medical tests or statements, Social Security is going to deny your claim.
Here are two examples:
Case History #1:
Severe anxiety and depression kept an applicant from leaving her home. Even though her family physician had prescribed medication for her condition, Social Security denied her request for disability benefits because she did not have a specific diagnosis of anxiety or depression from a mental health professional.
Case History #2:
A former warehouse worker was unable to work at his old job due to a back injury. His symptoms were real—numbness, tingling, and shooting pains in both legs. Because he was able to back up the description of his symptoms with MRIs which confirmed his back injury, he was awarded disability benefits.
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that you have a medically determinable condition that can reasonably be expected to cause the symptoms which prevent you from working, it will next assess your credibility. The SSA will scrutinize statements and observations made by your medical providers, your employers, and even friends and family to see how they match up with your own statements about your condition, especially how they align with the information you submitted in the form regarding your activities of daily living. Inconsistent statements are a big red flag to the SSA which will assume you are not telling the truth.
Let’s look at a couple of cases which illustrate this point:
Case History #3
The claimant in this example maintained that severe pain in her hands caused by carpal tunnel syndrome prevented her from continuing her work as a data entry clerk. However, a co-worker testified she had seen the claimant texting on her phone and using a pen to fill in forms. Because her statements were inconsistent with those of another observer, the SSA turned down her claim.
Case History #4
A young man who filed for benefits due to schizophrenia said in statements to Social Security that he was unable to leave home and had attempted suicide. His mother backed up his statements in sworn testimony at his appeals hearing. Her corroborating testimony helped him win the disability benefits he deserved.
When the SSA is reviewing your claim for disability benefits, it will also be looking at what treatments you have undergone and how you responded to prescribed treatments. To qualify for Social Security Disability payments you must follow all treatments prescribed by your doctor. This is important not only for your health and well-being, but also because it reflects on your credibility. If you have not cooperated with the treatments that have been prescribed by your doctor, it can derail your claim for disability benefits. If you have been inconsistent in following a treatment plan, the SSA likely will assume that your condition is not serious enough to prevent you from working.
Simply put, your credibility is critical to your case. If a judge doubts your credibility and believes you are being untruthful or exaggerating your symptoms, you will be turned down for benefits. To avoid this, let us review your case. Call Cuddigan Law at 402.933.5318 for a free evaluation.