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The Role Your Doctor Plays in Your Application for Social Security Disability Benefits

Most people understand that medical records play an important role in someone's ability to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. However, the role a doctor plays in a patient's ability to obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration is often overlooked. Exactly what role does your doctor play in your ability to receive disability benefits and how can you ensure that your treating physicians provide the Social Security Administration with the documentation and statements needed to support your disability claim? The following information will help you understand exactly how much influence your doctor has in the SSA's decision to award or deny your disability benefits and how you can work with your doctor to increase your chances of a successful Social Security Disability application.

Why Your Doctor's Statement is Important to Your Disability Claim

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will request statements from your treating physicians. Oftentimes the objective medical findings provided with a disability application are not enough to prove the extent of a patient's disability. A written statement from a treating doctor can provide added insight and perspective as to the patient's disability claim. Because of this, the Social Security Administration takes the opinions of treating doctors into special consideration when reviewing claims for disability benefits. In some cases, the statement provided by your doctor can make or break your Social Security Disability claim.

What Information Can Your Doctor Provide to Help Your Disability Claim?

Your doctor can provide the Social Security Administration with helpful details pertaining to your Social Security Disability claim, such as information regarding the nature of your disability and the severity, extent and expected duration of your condition. Your physician can provide the Social Security Administration with statements explaining how your condition prevents your ability to function in day to day life, how you are responding to any prescribed treatments and how your disabling condition prevents you from performing activities that would be necessary to maintain gainful work activity. These statements can help the Social Security Administration determine the extent of your disability and decide whether or not you qualify for benefits under the Social Security Disability guidelines.

Talking with Your Doctor About Your Disability Claim

If you have considered applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it is a good idea to discuss your plans with the doctor or doctors who have been treating your condition. Your doctor can shed light on his or her opinion regarding your condition and whether or not they think your condition is severe enough to warrant Social Security Disability benefits. If your doctor is in agreement with you and believes that you should be entitled to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, he or she can begin preparing a statement for the Social Security Administration to assist you in your disability claim.

When you visit your doctor for treatment, make sure you discuss how your condition is placing limitations on your day-to-day activities. You will want to keep your doctor updated as to the severity of your symptoms and how well the prescribed treatments are working. This will help your doctor provide an accurate and complete statement to the Social Security Administration.

If your doctor feels that they do not have enough medical evidence to support your disability claim, you may want to ask them to refer you for a RFC Evaluation. This evaluation will be conducted by a medical professional and will provide you with additional documentation regarding the limitations your disability imposes on you.

What if Your Doctor's Statement Contradicts the Consultative Exam?

Even if your doctor provides the Social Security Administration with a complete and accurate report regarding your disability, you may still be asked to undergo a consultative exam during the Social Security Disability application process. The Social Security Administration understands that these exams are limited in their nature and cannot always provide a full picture as to the limitations caused by an applicant's disability. Because of this, statements from your primary physician will usually be given more weight than the findings of a consultative exam.

Your Doctor and Your Disability Appeal

If your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, your doctor may be able to help you with the disability appeal process. You will need to gather more evidence in order to prove your disability claim and your doctor may be able to help you do this.

You should also consider consulting with a disability attorney if your initial application for benefits is denied. Approximately 70 percent of applications are denied at the initial stage of the application process so it is not uncommon for an individual to have to go through the appeal process in order to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Statistics indicate that your chances of filing a successful appeal are significantly higher with a qualified Social Security attorney.