My colleague, San Francisco California Social Security disability attorney Geri Kahn, publishes an interesting and thoughtful Social Security disability blog that I read regularly. This past April, she published a post that should be required reading for all disability applicants. Entitled “Four Misconceptions About the Social Security System,” Geri succinctly discusses several issues that lead to a great deal of frustration for both claimants and their attorneys.
One of the points Geri discusses really resonates with me. She answers the question “I have back pain and cannot work so why do you recommend that I see a psychiatrist?”
For years, my practice has been to add an allegation of depression and/or anxiety to every Social Security appeal I file. In my view it would be extraordinary if anyone with a history of regular work would not be depressed and anxious if he/she:
- no longer has a regular work routine
- experiences financial pressure because of lack of income
- feels a sense of worthlessness because he/she can no longer contribute (this is especially true for men)
- recognizes that he/she will not be able to engage in social, athletic and recreational activities at pre-impairment levels
- has to deal with stress and anxiety inherent to anyone with chronic pain
- has to deal with disrupted and sometimes damaged family relationships
- has to deal with physical and emotional changes associated with strong pain medications
- experiences new medical issues associated with his/her chronic medical condition (i.e., obesity, constipation, high cholesterol, etc.)
As a disability claimant, you may not even realize the impact your back condition has had on your life. As attorneys, we look at you as a whole person to understand more fully why you can no longer work. Not only will such a more expansive view of your damaged health benefit your case, it may help you better understand what you are going through as well.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 23 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.
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