The phrase, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” traditionally applies only in criminal cases, but individuals applying for disability always keep it in mind. Below are some scenarios where what an applicant says can be used against themselves:
Think Twice Before Going to a Social Security Administration Field Office
If an applicant goes into a Social Security Administration (“SSA”) field office the employees there may take field observations of you. These field observations are typically about an applicant’s appearance and behavior. If your appearance or behavior is inconsistent with the disabilities you have alleged, your responses to questionnaires sent to you by the SSA, or statements doctors have made in your medical records, it will be used against you. If you do not go into an SSA field office they cannot take field observations to be used against you. So do not go into an SSA field office unless it is completely necessary. You can have a friend or family member willing to go in your place.
What You Tell Your Doctors and Medical Providers Can Be Used Against You
Medical records are the most important component of Social Security Disability case. At all levels of the disability process medical records are reviewed and read by SSA employees. Doctors are often rushing to take notes that ultimately end up in your medical records and these rushed notes taken by doctors can and will be used against you. If at a doctor appointment you tell your doctor you are having a good day it will be in your records. If on your next several visits you tell your doctor you are having a bad day it will be noted in your medical records. SSA will use your reporting of good and bad days against you. In decisions, Administrative Law Judges will write that your reports to your doctors are inconsistent. The ALJ will use your good and bad days and similar statements you make to your doctors against you.
Be Careful of What You and Your Friends and Family Say in Social Security’s Questionnaires and Third Party Function Reports
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits credibility is a significant factor the SSA considers. The statements that you make about your ability to care for your personal needs, your ability to cook, clean, do laundry, and grocery shop, matter. If a family or friend reports something differently than you do in a Third Party Function Report the SSA will use those inconsistencies against you. An ALJ will troll your medical records, the questionnaires you completed, and any Third Party Function report you have submitted, preying on any inconsistencies found to use against you.
The Less You Say to the SSA the Better
When an individual is being arrested and taken into police custody, officers say: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” You should remember this when filling out documents for your disability case. You do “have the right to remain silent” to some extent. While you cannot leave the documents blank, often the less you, your family, and your friends say the better, because remember: anything you, your friends, your family, or your doctors say can and will be used against you.
Are you applying for SSD benefits or you do you know someone who is? Please consider the Law Office of Neil H. Good for your representation. Call #(847) 577-4476 or complete this online form for a free case evaluation.