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Missing Evidence

We've mentioned the importance of treatment records before. After all, treatment records are evidence in Social Security Disability cases, and evidence is an important factor in any type of court case. But sometimes, in rare occasions, the evidence-or, in our client's case, her medical records-does not always exist.

Our client became unable to work due to her disability in 2007. Due to her past work history, her "date last insured" was in 2008-this means we had a little over a year to prove her disability. (An individual's "date last insured" is the last date of disability benefit coverage, and is calculated based on their past work history. Once the "coverage" expires, an individual is no longer eligible for Social Security Disability, unless they can document that their disability began before their coverage expired.) Unfortunately, our client only had three Emergency Room visits in 2007. That was the extent of her treatment and her records. She began treatment again in 2010, but a rather large gap was left in her evidence.

As the case is with many individuals applying for disability, our client did not have health insurance during the gap in her treatment. Her evidence-or, rather, her treatment records didn't exist because she was unable to get proper medical treatment at that time due to the out-of-pocket cost. Her medical records that began again in 2010 were strong, but there was a significant gap to overcome.

We did our best to represent our client, despite the missing evidence in her claim. And, our client did her best by delivering an honest testimony, and explaining the gap in her treatment. In our advocate's closing argument, he conceded that the main issue in our client's case was the gap in time with no treatment records. We clarified to the Administrative Law Judge that we had no treatment notes or documents in the record simply because they didn't exist due to our client's inability to get proper medical treatment during that time period. We argued, however, that the three Emergency Room visits in 2007 were helpful and informative in that they indicated that our client's impairments started at the time. In painting a complete picture of our client's medical history, we were able to show that the earlier Emergency Room records showed the beginning of our client's impairments. Our client presented a very credible and sincere testimony, further compelling the ALJ, who granted a Fully Favorable decision.

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