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Are Doctor's Statements More Important than Medical Records?

Application preparation can make or break your application for disability benefits. Without the correct supportive evidence your claim may be delayed or even denied. Unfortunately, most people don’t know where to begin when it comes to preparing to apply for Social Security Disability. This week’s blog question was sent to us on Facebook and touches upon the subject of application preparation and collecting the necessary supportive evidence.

“I’ve been told that my doctor’s written statement and opinions are just as important as my medical records. Is this true?”

Personal statements and medical records are both very important to proving a person’s disability. Although one is not necessarily more important than the other, each can provide different types of information.

Medical records are vital to your disability claim because they validate the statements made on your application. Without medical records, the Social Security Administration and Disability Determination Services will not be able to approve your claim. Having said that, medical records can be very impersonal—meaning that that a lab report or x-ray can’t always provide an in-depth understanding of a person’s condition. For this reason, it can also help your claim to supplement your medical records with written statements from your treating physicians.

If you plan to request a written statement from your doctor, be sure to choose a doctor that has a thorough understanding of your medical history. The SSA will give more weight to the opinion of a doctor who has seen you frequently than a doctor who has only seen you once or twice. To increase your chances of approval make sure that your doctor’s statement is:

  • Detailed – If your doctor’s statement is short and lacking detail, it will not do much to help your claim. Instead, the statement should touch upon your diagnoses, the impairments that face each day, and your ability to perform work-related activities.
  • Impartial—The statement should be as objective as possible. For the most part, your doctor’s opinions should be consistent with the rest of your claim. If your doctor lies or exaggerates in any way, the SSA will not consider them to be a reliable source of information and it could harm your chances of approval.
  • Confirmed—When your doctor explains the specifics of your condition he should be able to back it up with medical proof. For example, if a physician writes that a patient can’t stand or walk for more than 20 minutes, he or she should also reference the appropriate medical records to back this up.

If your doctor’s statement complies with the guidelines above, it will likely improve your chances of being awarded benefits. To answer the question: applicants should include a combination of medical records and person statements so that their claim provides a well-rounded, in-depth look into their life with a disability.

If you have a question that you’d like us to answer, leave it in the comment section below!