Sample Questions: Disability Benefits and Medical History

Medical history is established by the medical records. Most ALJs have read the medical records and taken notes on them for use at the hearing. Thus, detailed testimony about medical history is not necessary in most cases.

Because of the requirement that you be disabled for 12 months, it is the plateaus, not the valleys or peaks, that are most important in a Social Security disability case.

Your medical history can establish a time frame for the your testimony about the plateaus.

The degree to which the judge or your attorney will ask about your medical history depends on the nature of your case. Cases in which more development of medical history is necessary include those involving virtually every known treatment for pain, unusual impairments, unusual treatment or especially cryptic medical records where testimony from the claimant will educate the ALJ.

If medical history is required, your attorney may asked the following types of questions:

Q: You injured your back at work on January 15th, 20__, didn’t you?

Q: And you never went back to work after that, did you?

Q: Your condition continued to get worse, you had numerous medical tests which found a ruptured disc, and you had surgery on May 15, 20__, didn’t you?

Q: During the summer of 20__ you recovered from the immediate aftereffects of surgery, didn’t you?

Q: And wouldn’t you say that as of September 15th of 20__, the day your doctor told the worker’s compensation insurance carrier that your condition had plateaued, your symptoms then were pretty much the same as they are now?

Current Treatment

While, as a rule, testimony about past medical treatment should be kept to a minimum, you may be asked a lot of questions about current, on-going treatment, and any lack of ongoing treatment should be fully explained.

You may be asked the following:

  • Names of those treating you now.
  • Their specialties.
  • Length of relationship.
  • Frequency of treatment.
  • Which condition does this doctor, therapist, etc. treat?
  • What treatment does he provide?
  • How much has this treatment helped?
  • What medication do you take now? How much do you take each time you take it? How often do you take it? Are there any side-effects? How much does it help and for how long?
  • If no regular treatment/medication, why not?

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