Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doctors and Social Security Disability

As a disability examiner and in disability representation, I found many instances in which I was very disappointed with certain members of the medical profession.

How so? Well, I recall a number of times (actually, more times than I can count) when it seemed that I could not get, no matter how many times I tried, medical records out of a certain doctor's office (though in most cases I eventually did get them by hook or by crook).

It usually went something like this: I would send in the records request, I would get nothing back, I would call to get the status of the request, they would tell me they didn't receive it, I would either mail it again or fax it to them, they would tell me again they didn't have it, I would fax it again, then they would tell me got it but their copy person couldn't get to it till next week, then next week would come and they would tell me the copy person didn't make it in, yadda, yadda, and yadda.

That was one variation of the song and dance. Another was this: I would send in a request to have a treating physician complete a medical source statement for a claimant who had a pending disability claim and I would be flatly told that the doctor didn't fill out such forms. As in Doctor-everything-will-be-alright (that's a line from a prince song, by the way) had plenty of time to charge for an office visit, but no time to help his patient when the patient became disabled and, correspondingly, became in danger of losing everything he or she had due to a disability system that irresponsibly takes too long.

Sometimes, though, the doctor had plenty of time to fill out an RFC form for his beleaguered patient---provided, of course, that the doctor was compensated to the tune of $300 to $500 for his invaluable time (irresponsible, mercenary, and unethical in my opinion since it takes 15 minutes tops to fill out an RFC form).

As I said, I have been disappointed many, many times by medical professionals. And, in general, I find that the state of medicine in this country really stinks. Truth be told, I believe that far too many individuals practicing medicine today do it solely for the buck. Which is why we disproportionately have so many specialists and have a relative dearth of general practitioners.

Now, here's something interesting I just found on twitter. In one conversation, a doctor states that (I'm paraphrasing slightly) a person "is filing for disability and may be lying to get it".

Without actually getting into this physician's head and learning the actual context of his statement, I can't really make a substantial comment. However, a nurse communicates back to him this particular thought: "Don't you think that sometimes they exaggerate symptoms in order to get someone to listen to them?

Well, now, that does provide some context. And it also provides a warning to claimants which is this: if you are filing for disability, don't automatically assume that a physician you've seen will automatically be supportive of your case just because they've provided treatment to you. Many many doctors have deep and true biases when it comes to the social security disability and SSI disability programs.

And, as an examiner, I really found this to be the case with doctors who perform consultative exams (often referred to as social security medical exams) for claimants who are filing for disability . Reading the reports of some consultative examinations, it was difficult not to conclude that some doctors who have agreed to perform such exams are really looking for any small inkling that the person is not actually disabled...which is both ironic and sad since these doctors are A) being compensated to see disability claimants, some of whom have been sent to exams because they no longer have medical insurance and cannot afford to maintain their prior patient-doctor relationships and B) these doctors have no treatment history with these claimants and, thus, are in no position to make judgments of this sort. Which, if you think about it, really stabs deeply at the question of how useful these CE (consultative exam) things are anyway.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Ask anyone who has tried to qualify for social security disability
Will you get Approved for Disability if you have an Open and Shut Case?
Depression Social Security Disability SSI - Applying for Disability
Do you have to be totally permanently disabled to get social security disability or ssi ?
Schizophrenia Social Security Disability SSI - Applying for Disability
Will I Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Filing for Disability - Doctors and Documentation



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