One of the best weapons in your arsenal during the disability application process is a diagnosis from a specialist. While a general doctor’s diagnosis can get you started, the truth is that the same statement from a specialist will carry more weight with the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you are applying for disability benefits, make sure that you either have already seen a specialist or plan to do so while you are going through the Social Security disability application process.
Why it Matters
Getting a diagnosis from a specialist is so important to a disability application, because it will give more legitimacy to your disability claim. A diagnosis from a general physician is useful, but a diagnosis from a specialist adds huge credibility to your claim since their experience and training in a specialized field cannot be argued. In fact, the word of a specialist is so important in disability applications that many disability attorneys will insist that you see one before they take your case.
How to Get an Appointment
When finding a disability doctor, the first step in getting a diagnosis from a specialist is making an appointment. The best way to make an appointment is through your general physician. Explain to your doctor that you are applying for disability benefits and that you would like to be examined by a specialist. Once your doctor has made a referral it is easy and vital to follow up with the specialist.
Seeing More Than One Specialist
Most people who make a disability claim are doing so because of one disability, but if you are suffering from multiple disabilities it cannot hurt to have the opinions of multiple specialists on file. For example if you are applying for disability based on being paralyzed but also have asthma or another condition, seeing a specialist for each of these will help. When the SSA makes a determination on a disability claim, they take into consideration all information you have provided them. The more information you give them, the better chance you have of having your disability claim approved.
Using a Specialist for Appeals
Unfortunately not everyone who deserves disability benefits gets approved on the first attempt. If you are appealing a disability claim denial, make sure you see a specialist who will agree with your diagnosis. Many people who did not see a specialist during their initial claim have found that seeing a specialist for their appeal helped improve their chances significantly.
In the end, seeing a specialist when necessary is essential to having your disability claim approved as soon as possible. Many disability attorneys make sure their clients have seen a specialist before handling their case.
How a Disability Diagnosis Can Help with Your Disability Benefit Claim
An application for a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is unlikely to succeed without a disability diagnosis from your physician and /or treating specialists even if you state that your symptoms match the SSA’s Blue Book criteria for the type of disability that you are suffering from.
The SSA will only make a recommendation to grant you a benefit if your disability is severe enough to prevent you from working for another 12 months or more.
This is in addition to criteria matching the Blue Book listing. The SSA pays particular attention to a disability diagnosis which confirms that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working, with accompanying medical history showing the onset and development of the condition, details of current symptoms, as well as results of any test and scans, hospital admissions and surgery that you may have had.
In some cases, your disability benefit application can be supported by having a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment carried out by your doctor.
The RFC assessment is a series of tests of your physical and, in some cases, mental capacity, to continue working. Physical assessment may include testing how much you can lift, how long you can stand up, sit, walk and kneel. Mental tests may include measuring your concentration span, ability to remember, talk and listen.
The RFC assessment establishes the limits to your ability to continue working and accompanied with a well documented disability diagnosis will help to support your benefit application.