A lot of people file their social-security disability claims as soon as it becomes clear that they can't work any longer—but they may not even know exactly what's wrong with them yet. When your medical information is rapidly evolving, there are things that you need to do in order to keep your social-security claim going and increase your chances of success. Here are some tips for how to handle rapidly evolving information about your disability that will help you keep your disability claim from getting lost in the process.

1.) Note the contact information that you receive from the Office of Disability Determination Services.

When you file your initial claim for disability, you'll be given a contact number for your local social-security claims representative. This is the person who took down your basic information and got your claim ready for processing before it was sent to the state Disability Determination Service (DDS). He or she also made sure that you at least seem to meet the non-medical requirements for disability, like having enough work credits to file.

The DDS is an independently operated agency, and there is one in each state. That's where the actual decision on whether or not you meet the medical requirements for disability benefits is made. Shortly after your claim reaches the DDS in your state, you'll receive contact information for the claims examiner in that office.

It is very important that you don't confuse the two individuals and their functions. You want to report any changes that could affect the medical decision to the representative at DDS, not your local office. If you make a mistake, the representative in the local office will simply have to relay your message to the representative at DDS, which means that you run the risk that some information will get lost or misstated.

2.) Report changes to your medical record and medical condition as they occur.

Medical decisions for disability claims are extremely complex, and it's not really possible to easily discuss all of the different factors that could affect a claim. However, people are often afraid to report changes to their condition or the treatments they're receiving while their disability claim is pending for fear that doing so will slow the whole process down.

Unfortunately, they're right: reporting changes in your treatment and medications is likely to slow down your claim. The DDS examiner is going to have to get new records from your treating sources in order to document your claims.

However, not letting DDS know that there are rapid changes going on with your medical care is a serious mistake. The ongoing nature of your treatment, the changes in medication, and the information revealed by new testing all help the DDS examiner make a decision. If you only give him or her part of the information, he or she could easily deny your claim when it would otherwise be approved.

3.) When you call the DDS examiner, make sure that you have complete information.

When you make updates to your disability application, give the DDS examiner as much information as possible. For example, if your family physician has referred you over for psychological care because of ongoing depression and started you on a new medication at your last visit, you should have this specific information ready to give to the examiner when you call.

  • The date of your last visit with your family physician
  • The name and address of the psychologist or psychiatrist to which you were referred
  • The appointment date with that doctor (if known)
  • The name and dosage of the medication your family doctor put you on for your depression
  • Any side effects that you experience from the medication that impair your ability to function (such as fatigue, daytime drowsiness, a tremor that affects your fine motor skills, and so on)

While the thought of slowing down your disability claim may distress you some, slowing it down is far better than having it denied because of a lack of information. If you're having trouble managing the amount of work that goes along with an active social-security disability claim or find yourself unfairly denied, consider contacting an attorney for help.