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Massachussets Bar Association
Maine state Bar

September, 2010: The Importance of Remaining in Treatment

Karen's case suggests the importance of remaining in continuing treatment at all costs. In order to prevail in a Social Security disability claim, one needs to show that they are disabled from all forms of gainful employment despite prescribed treatment. It becomes much more difficult if, due to lack of insurance or lack of motivation, one is not able or willing to do everything possible to get better. This means following up with the recommendations of the treatment providers. In Karen's case, being 34 years of age, Social Security was looking to see that all treatment options were being pursued for her serious cervical disk problems. Gaps in treatment were occurring (and so were gaps in contact with Karen) and this was causing the Social Security Administration to wonder whether she would remain disabled despite prescribed treatment. Having an attorney familiar with how the Social Security Administration evaluates one's disability claim can make all the difference. In Karen's case, helping to explain, promote and facilitate follow-up with the doctor's office and ultimately the significant fusion surgery that was being recommended, allowed me to provide an argument letter at just the appropriate time (prior to the need for hearing) to ensure that Karen received the benefits she deserved. Obviously, being in pain on a long term basis and becoming depressed at the prospect that one may remain disabled for many years or a lifetime, can cause one to become very depressed and hopeless. As an advocate for the disabled, I see my job as providing hope for the future: either in terms of explaining additional treatment follow-up that may help one's physical or mental well-being. It is always a better scenario in my mind if my clients can get better and can avoid going on Social Security in the first place. In the circumstance where one has already been disabled for a year or longer, it is always my hope that my client can get better and ultimately return to work. The Social Security rules provide many financial incentives for claimants to return to work in the form of what are called trial work periods. A lawyer specializing in this area of the law should be able to explain this area of Social Security law in depth so as to ensure that their client is able to understand that getting better medically is always the goal (and always creates a winning result for their client). See Brent's success story in August, 2010 for an example of how a return to work following a period of disability does not mean your Social Security disability claim is weakened: actually it's strengthened.