Donald E. Bartholomew, JD, MS, Attorney  
( Maj,USA,Ret. & prior Navy)
Protecting Clients' Rights Since 1983
  1179 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA 96003   Tel. (530)246-1621
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How To Mess Up Your Disability Case

              How to really mess up your Social Security Disability Case 

(1) Be sure to wait until the last minute to retain a Skilled, Experienced, Social Security Disability Attorney.  What the heck is experience, and education worth anyway !   After all, once the Judge hears “your side of the story” it ought to be “an open and shut case”.  Sure it will be. Everything always works out just fine for you.  Besides, you know lots of people who know lots of people who “went down and applied for SSI and got right on it”.  Who cares about “back benefits”.   Maybe someone at the Social Security office has whispered “you probably don’t need an Attorney”, or “ we might grant your claim right away, let’s wait and see.”  Besides, those pesky Attorneys, they all  just ‘complicate’ things for us.... Besides, we will want our doctors to see you.”    
You will continue to believe that Social Security employees are your friends. Everything they tell you always turns out to be the complete truth (they may believe it), all will be just fine...especially for you
      The performance of Social Security employees is evaluated on how quickly they move things along, correctly or not It can take a lot more time to prove disability than to deny it. Why delay moving a case along to just to get a bunch of the right medical records, or to treat with the right Doctors, or a psychologist, to determine what your impairments are?   Medical evidence won’t matter for that Social Security Judge, will it?       

(2)  Keep using as much alcohol, marijuana and illicit drugs you can get your hands on.  
After all, once the folks at Social Security or the Social Security Judge (“ALJ”) understand the fact that you are frequently intoxicated, sedated, high, or stoned, this will make them feel really sorry for you. They will all want to help you get a Government check every month for the rest of your life because they are very empathetic people.   OooooPs!  Gee, you forgot, or maybe no one told you, that since 1996, if drug and or alcohol abuse is determined to be a significant, material factor to your disability you cannot be granted disability. . . what???  No government check for you....   Yes, I’m sure you know someone, who knows someone, who is a drug addict or alcoholic and they “went down there and got right onto that SSI”....   Oh, and smoke as much marijuana as you can too.  Do you really believe that Those Federal Administrative Law Judges will admire your defiance of Federal Laws, especially if you have psychiatric impairments (they can't sort out what symptoms are caused by the drugs/alcohol/Marijuana from psychiatric symptoms), depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue, hallucinations, mood swings, etc etc        

(3)  Remember, you don’t need a Skilled, Experienced Attorney - why would you want to have an experienced, skilled, highly educated Attorney on your side?  When that Judge hears your side of the story they will feel so sorry for you that they will make sure you get that government check for the rest of your life.   After all, you have been “fighting with Social Security” for the past year or so, it’s just not fair that your aren’t getting a check yet.  That Judge just needs to hear “your side of the story”....  How you "FEEL" is especially important to the Judge.
  Did a Social Security employee whisper to you several months or more ago as they leaned over the desk to confide to you  “you don’t need a lawyer, but I can’t really tell you that, maybe we’ll get your case granted for you soon, those pesky lawyers just slow things down for us with all their legal mumbo jumbo, why hire a lawyer. Here at Social Security, WE are your FRIENDS. We will give you all the help you need. Don’t you worry about anything.”   So, how has that plan been working out for you so far?    Do you do all of your own Dental work too?

(4)  Especially don’t finally get an Attorney before Social Security sends you to be examined by their Doctors and Psychologist (wait until AFTER the SSA doctors have 'examined' you & slammed your case with their superficial, poorly done report....) Their Doctors are much smarter, and far more clever than your Doctors, and they will be able to figure out that nothing much is really wrong with you at all (that should be really good new for you - you aren’t disabled!), in about 10 minutes, even when they have not seen your medical records.  Again, remember, the people at Social Security are your FRIENDS.  Why slow things down by retaining an Attorney to make sure you are seeing and interacting properly with the right Doctors, mental health professionals, and are actively involved in drug/alcohol treatment - why bother with all that stuff, it will “just slow things down”.   Why have your Attorney prepare your case, obtain appropriate medical and psychological treatment records. Why let an Attorney prepare you for your exam by the Social Security Doctors?  Won’t being prepared by your Attorney just confuse you?  Won’t all those ‘extra’ medical records just confuse those Social Security Doctors? 
         Note:  I prepare ALL of our clients for their examinations by Social Security Doctors and Psychologists. I prepare a Memo for my clients summarizing the evidence in their case and send that to the Social Security Administration before they are examined by the Soc Sec Doctors.  I take your claim seriously, as you should.  Other non-attorney 'reps' and those "800 number firms" do not provide this professional service - they must figure that since they don't get paid extra, or anything, to do this for their clients then why bother!?  I have always practiced Law as a skilled, ethical, professional Attorney,  You deserve no less.

(5)   Don’t get into Alcoholism or Drug Abuse treatment (even though it is free on an outpatient basis with your Medi-Cal, Veterans benefits, or ObamaCare).  What business is it anyway that you’re an alcoholic or meth addict. It is your choice, your personal business.  That Judge just needs to do his job and make sure that they start sending you a check every month. The Security Administration regulations don’t apply to you. Besides you know people, who know people, who are addicts or alcoholics and are on SSI.  So, avoid treatment.   Those Judges are especially impressed with folks who are trying to get sober and ‘clean’ on their own - especially if they have been trying to do it for years....  Besides, you might be able to sober up for the hearing. Then all that treatment will have been a waste of time and energy.
      If you have COPD, heart disease, or other breathing disorders which are part of your disability picture, KEEP SMOKING, Judges really admire a person who sticks with things even in the face of horrible diseases or death.
And, if you hang tough with your story that you cannot afford your medications because you have other "needs", (especially cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, smart phone, junk food, etc) they will be very impressed with that too.  If you have diabetes, heart disease, breathing disorders, KEEP SMOKING.   
Note: I do not know of any Soc. Sec. Judges who smoke. If you discover one, let me know who it is and we'll 'out him'.

Note: Since 1996, Judges cannot grant disability to any claimants for whom they determine drug and or alcohol abuse is a factor material to their disability Click on this link:  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/rulings/di/01/SSR2013-02-di-01.html -  SSR 13-2P:  if a Judge believes that your impairments would not be severe, or that you would not be disabled if you were clean & sober for a sustained period, then the Judge will deny your claim!  Many Judges may look for reasons to deny your claim if you are alcoholic, drug addicted or smoke and have impairments caused by your smoking.  P.S. Marijuana use is still a Federal crime. Social Security Judges are “Federal”.  Some apparently must believe that 1936 movie “Reefer Madness” (click this link or Google it) is some sort of medical and psychiatric research documentary....  ;^) .  Many Judges will find a way to deny your case  IF you abuse alcohol, use illicit drugs, use marijuana, don't follow your health care providers' recommendations, don't stay on appropriate medications recommended by your health care providers, don't participate regularly in psychotherapy if you have Psychiatric impairments....  They WILL find ways to deny your claim !    And, you likely won't even see it coming !

(6)  Don’t apply for Medi-Cal or ”ObamaCare” (if you are from one of several Northern CA counties you probably didn’t vote for him, or you don’t vote).  Why would you want to use free medical or mental health care.  And, you certainly don’t want to go see Doctors who will just create a lots of detailed records about you and “get up in all your business.”  Why would a Judge need to see a bunch of medical records about you anyway. Besides you have more important things to do with your time than to go see Doctors while you are waiting a year or so to see a Social Security Judge.  Why bother. Once the Judge just hears YOUR side of “the story” they’ll get you onto that “SSI” right away....    Your  case will NOT need medical or psychological treatment records to prove up your impairments.   Your case is special, it is “open and shut”.

(7) Keep dreaming : You are special, so the Judge might decide the rules don’t apply to you.  All Security Administration employees are your friends. Once that Social Security Judge hears “your side of the story”  and  reads those reports done by the very smart Social Security Doctors who ‘saw you’ for 10 minutes or less (while they typed on their laptop), they will all work together to get those “SSI” checks coming in the mail to you right away !  

(8)  Keep telling stupid little lies, keep changing your story and either minimized or exaggerate lots of things that your confused and deceitful mind tell you might help  ....  Judges love that -  once they catch you in an inconsistency in "your side of the story", IT'S OVER FOR YOU, especially when you are contradicted by things your health care providers write in your treatment records. You can count on all the inconsistencies with statements you made in all those earlier forms you filled out (remember Soc Sec employees who are your friends suggested "you don't need a Lawyer..." being used to deny your claim.

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Realty =

     Social Security Judges are very well educated, tax paying, intelligent, hard-working, experienced Attorneys who chose to become Administrative Law Judges. They will decide whether you meet all the necessary criteria for disability, or not.  They are subject to being influenced by what they see, read, and believe - whatever the source.  Their first, and last, impressions of you will be from what records, reports, statements, and other documents they see well before they see you at a hearing.  If they are improperly informed, and the evidence has not been properly presented, what little they see of you during a 30 to 45+ minute hearing (almost always by Video Tele Conference) will usually serve to confirm what they have already come to believe from studying your claims file well before the hearing. Fair or not, it is what it is.  You may be very surprised and sadly disappointed by their decision (mailed to you a few months or longer following your hearing).    

    Over the past few years, the Social Security Administrative Law Judges have been subjected to increasingly intense political and agency pressures to hear many more cases each year, and to deny a greater proportion of cases.
 I believe that many may feel compelled to deny more cases than ever before or action may be taken by Congress to change their roles dramatically forever.  

    Judges do not care that you may not be hired, nor do they care that you have no transportation, or cannot be retrained to do a new job.  The rules require that they determine, by the medical, psychiatric and vocational evidence before them - not speculation or sympathy, whether you have severe impairments which preclude  your ability to work successfully, with reasonable accommodations, on a full-time basis, in ANY job which exists anywhere in the national economy (even it all those jobs are already filled by other people).  It is quite a bit more complicated than this, but those are the basics.  

  Retain an experience Attorney early in the process, as soon as you have applied. Don't wait to be denied !  Before you mess up your case. It's the smart thing to do. 

   
Call my Office  (530) 246-1621



Don't go it alone.  We have been effectively handling claims and appeals for many years in an expert manner. You won't know that you really needed my help until it is too late. See the section above entitled "Mess Up Your Case".  So, Call My Office now.  Don't wait until you are in front of one of these guys!

  ..........Administrative Law Judge "DenyEmAll".