POSTED BY Tracy . July 27, 2020
The Role Your Doctor Plays in Your Disability Claim
Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that you have to be off work for six months or a year before you can apply for or collect disability benefits. You don’t have to be disabled for any length of time before you apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You are eligible to apply for SSD or SSI benefits as soon as you stop being able to do a substantial amount of work. In most cases, Social Security defines substantial work as making $1,260 per month (in 2020
Also know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives more than two million applications for Social Security Disability benefits each and every year. Of these applications, a mere 30% are approved during the initial stage of the application process. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of applicants do not provide the SSA with enough evidence to prove the extent of their disability and how that disability prevents them from being able to work. Your doctor’s evidence will be crucial.
Meeting with Your Doctor
If you get to the point where you cannot perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), see a doctor. Be very clear about your symptoms and limitations. When filing a claim with the SSA, they will request a written statement from your treating physician. If you want to increase your chances of receiving Social Security Disability benefits, you will want your doctor to be prepared for this request.
It is advisable that you and your doctor review the Blue Book listing for the condition(s) you are experiencing. Your doctor needs to understand the extent of your disability if he or she is expected to relay the information properly to the SSA when providing them with a written statement.
Don’t hesitate to be direct with your doctor as to whether or not he or she agrees that you qualify for disability benefits. If your doctor supports your Social Security Disability claim, your chances of receiving a favorable decision from the SSA are significantly increased.
What Is Needed from Your Doctor?
Your doctor will need to provide the SSA with a written statement regarding the extent and circumstances of your disability. This statement should be detailed and informative and supported by objective medical evidence. A simple statement from your doctor claiming that you are unable to work will not help your claim if there is no objective evidence to support that claim. Your doctor’s statement must be supported by objective medical findings, such as laboratory test results and X-ray images.
When meeting with your doctor, explain that he or she will need to provide the SSA with information about your diagnosis, the physical restrictions your condition places on you, the prognosis of your condition, and how your condition prevents you from being able to participate in gainful work activity. Your doctor should be both aware of the medical evidence needed and amenable to providing a comprehensive report.
If Your Claim for Benefits Has Been Denied
If you have already filed an application for Social Security Disability benefits, it is still not too late to get help from your doctor. When you reach the later stage of the disability appeal process, you will need to attend a hearing before an administrative law judge. This judge should place great weight on the statement provided by the doctor who has been treating your condition, as long as your doctor’s statement is supported within your regular treating notes and objective testing.
If your doctor has not yet provided the SSA with a complete and accurate statement regarding your condition, it is crucial that he or she do so before the date of your hearing. Contact your doctor, either in person or by phone, to discuss your concerns and to request the statement be completed before your hearing date.
Consult with an Attorney
Disability attorneys are very knowledgeable about the process and can assist in contacting your physician to gather the necessary documentation. If you have already been denied benefits, it can be beneficial to hire an attorney. Proper legal representation will significantly increase your chances of winning your appeal at the hearing stage.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, has represented countless clients for more than 25 years. We are experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate. For more information about our award-winning firm, visit jandils.com, or call us at 877.526.3457. You can also fill out this form and we will respond to you shortly.