Physician Support for Your Social Security Disability Case
Surprisingly, many physicians are not much help to their patients when it comes to filing for social security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits. While it is true that physicians are in the business of practicing medicine and are in no way employed by the social security administration, it is a bit disheartening to realize that many are not helpful in disability matters, especially given the fact that no one can receive disability benefits without medical records/statements to back up a claim.
Physicians do not have to have an extensive knowledge of title 2 (social security disability insurance) or title 16 (supplemental security income disability) law to be helpful in a disability case. What they do need to understand, and what so many seem to be completely in the dark about, is that disability decisions are based solely on the medical evidence supporting an applicant’s claim that they are no longer able to work. Medical reports/doctor’s notes describing a condition are of little use if they do not detail the way in which the condition inhibits a patient’s functional capacity.
For instance, it’s no enough to indicate that a patient is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; a physician must also give at least a brief synopsis of the types of activities or physical movements that are no longer possible as a result of increased pain and restricted movement. This would apply to mental impairments as well, such as chronic or manic depression.
Unfortunately, there are a number of physicians who are unwilling to help in disability cases simply because they do not want to bother with the paperwork involved. It is true that the amount of insurance and medical liability paperwork that doctors must deal with daily has increased tenfold, and that the practice of medicine gets more complicated every day. It is also true that a few minutes of a physician’s time could save a patient from going bankrupt or losing their home, not to mention the devastating financial consequences for any children involved.
With this in mind, if you are thinking of filing for disability benefits, it’s best to let your physician know immediately and ask if he or she would be willing to be involved in the matter. You might even be able to provide your physician with an easy check-off form, which many attorneys have on hand. This form allows the doctor to quickly indicate activities a patient is no longer able to fully perform, and is especially geared toward establishing the patient’s residual functional capacity (what the patient can do in terms of work despite his or her medical condition).
If your physician seems reluctant to get involved in your case, it’s probably best to begin seeing another doctor. You can always have your medical records transferred, and it’s better to go through the trouble of getting a new doctor than to continue to see a physician who will not back up your claim for disability—without the necessary medical documentation, the chances of winning SSD or SSI benefits are slim to none.
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