Virginia Disability Law: Lessons from 30 Years

Over the past thirty years in law practice, the attorneys from the Virginia disability law firm Geraty, Holub & MacQueen, PLC have identified several key factors that affect the outcome of disability claims before the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration.

#1 – Obtain medical care, stay in treatment, and follow your doctor’s advice.

Records from your medical providers are by far the most important documentation of your medical condition when your case is reviewed by the decision makers in your case.  Therefore, it is crucially important that you continue medical treatment after you become unable to work.  Although you are able to testify as to your disability and its effects on your life at hearings, medical records from a qualified medical practitioner carry much more weight with the SSA and VA judges and other decision makers who will decide if you win or lose.  If you lose your health insurance or otherwise cannot afford staying in treatment with your regular doctor, contact your local free clinic or medical center to determine if you qualify for free or reduced cost care. Having a well documented medical history to validate and confirm your medical condition and its effect on your life will make your case much stronger.

#2-Be careful when filling out Social Security and Veterans Administration forms.

These forms are crucial to the success or failure of your claim.  The questions on the forms are tricky, and may be phrased in a way that encourages you to put down answers which are later used against you to deny your claim.  The answers on these forms literally can mean the difference between winning and losing.  The forms can be difficult to understand and an error or omission on even one question may mean the loss of your claim.

#3 – If you smoke cigarettes, you should stop.

The administrators at the Social Security and Veterans Administration seem to give greater preference to those applicants who do everything within their power to get healthy, including following their doctors’ advice to stop smoking.  If you have difficulty in quitting, ask your medical provider for medication or other treatment alternatives to stop.

#4 – If you are involved in drugs of abuse such as cocaine and marijuana stop use of them at once.

If you are drinking to excess stop and seek treatment to stop abuse. A history of positive drug tests in your medical records will count against you in your disability evaluation.  If you have tested positive in the past, entering a drug treatment program can show that you have taken steps to handle the problem, and the records from that treatment will help your case if you have tested positive in the past.  Often patients are not even aware they have had a blood or urine test which shows positive for drugs or alcohol, but the test results are in the medical records. Therefore, even if you are not aware that you have  had a positive drug test, if you use illegal drugs or use alcohol to excess, you are severely damaging your disability claim.

#5 – If you are taking strong prescription pain medication, ensure that you take it according to your doctor’s orders.

Narcotic painkillers are commonly used to treat a number of conditions, and can be habit forming.   Do not increase dosage, frequency of administration, or mix medications without consulting your doctor.  Do not obtain legal prescription pain medications on the street.  A history of abuse of legal medication will be harmful to the success of your claim.

By following these guidelines you will increase your chances of success with your disability claim.  Contact an experienced attorney who is familiar with the technicalities of Social Security and Veterans Administration law to assist you with your claim.  Don’t make a mistake on a form, or fail to follow the right procedures in documenting your medical condition, or you and your family could lose out on your disability benefits.  For more information call Geraty, Holub & MacQueen, PLC at 855-2VA-PAID.

There is no charge to talk with an attorney about your case.  If you are represented by Geraty, Holub & MacQueen, PLC, you will not owe an attorney fee unless you win, and the fee will be a percentage of the past due benefits which are won.

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