“How are you doing?” is a loaded question for my disabled clients. I’ve learned to ask, “How are you doing today?” instead.
This week in a disability hearing, when the judge asked my client how he was doing, my thoughtful client struggled with how to answer. After thinking for a moment he responded, “My spirit is well.” I loved that response. This was a man with significant heart issues. He was fatigued, short of breath, and in pain. He was not doing well, but his spirit was not broken.
I think about the question of “How are you doing?” a lot in the context of disability claims. Often I see in medical records the response noting “The patient is doing well,” “The patient has no complaints,” or “The patient is feeling better.” These are all relative remarks, but can be problematic as judges or reviewing physicians evaluate a claim. Is my client really doing well? Are they feeling better? Do they truly have no complaints? Generally, the answer is no. Why would they continue to go to the doctor so regularly if there were no issues?
I ask my clients to approach this question carefully when speaking with their doctors. I tell them to complain consistently. Whether you are at the doctor for a cough or cold instead of your long-term disabling health issues, make sure that your doctor still hears you say that your disabilities are a significant struggle. Even if your doctors are only willing to treat your general health needs, like your high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure that you are still complaining about your disabling conditions and that they are making note of that in their records.
The response, “My spirit is well” was a good way to wrap up the week. The judge appreciated the response and it lifted the spirits of all in the room. And, thankfully for my client, we were able to get his claim approved.
If you are suffering from disabilities that keep you from working and need assistance filing for disability or appealing your disability claim, please contact my office. I’m a board certified Social Security Disability law specialist.