Why is Credibility So Important in a Disability Claim?
Credibility is everything. There are many people who seek disability benefits under false pretense – meaning they are trying to “work the system” and obtain benefits they do not deserve. Obviously anyone has the right to file a disability claim and it costs no money to do so. As a result, people do “game” the system. SSA adjudicators (DDS Examiners and Administrative Law Judges) are aware of this reality and, therefore, try to assess your credibility throughout the process.
The most important element of credibility is the consistency of your claim file. Do all elements of your claim add up? Elements of your claim include your work history, your medical evidence, your testimony at the Hearing, and any other evidence that may be included in your claim file.
The single most important element of your credibility is the consistency between your allegations and your medical evidence. For example, if you complain of severe back pain (rating your pain a 10 on a scale of 1-10), but your MRI reveals no significant findings, your claim will not be credible. Another example: you complain of severe depression and agoraphobia, but you volunteer at your church, you are the caretaker for your elderly mother, and you enjoy playing in a band with your friends. This claim would generally not be considered credible – even with supportive medical evidence. Again, everything has to work together for the claim to be credible.
Another element of credibility is your responses to Activities of Daily Living Questionnaires, which you (and a third party) complete during the Initial Application and Reconsideration phases of the disability claims process. It asks how your impairments affect your day-to-day activities. If you indicate that you enjoy cooking meals for your family and doing yardwork, but allege to be unable to work due to your fibromyalgia, Social Security would likely find your claim to not be credible.
Lastly, adjudicators (specifically, Administrative Law Judges) will consider your work history. If you have not worked in 20 years and now claim you cannot work due to your diabetes, many judges will, in effect, discriminate against you due to your weak work history – even though you meet their own definition of being disabled! Judges should not legislate from the bench, so to speak – but they do. Likewise, if you were in prison for 10 years and immediately file for SSI benefits upon your release, many judges will hold your prison record against you – even if you are 59 years old, have limited education, and have a broken back that prevents you from doing any type of work.
How a Social Security Attorney Can Help
Whether you’re preparing your first SSDI application, submitting your claim for Reconsideration or appealing a rejected claim, you have a greater chance of success with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer.
Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman PC understand the complex SSDI application process and the information necessary to receive approval while maximizing the financial support you need for your condition. We also have a thorough knowledge of the appeals process and can help you assemble the additional information necessary to bolster your claim if you’ve been denied.
If you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and need assistance filing your SSDI application or making an appeal, please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation.