How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Will my doctor charge me for a letter for my Social Security Disability claim?

Whether or not your doctor charges you for a letter or statement to help your disability claim...depends on the doctor.

There are some doctors who absolutely refuse to become involved in disability cases and others who will supply a statement in support of your claim, but only if you pay a fee. Some doctors charge hundreds of dollars--if you are a patient of one of these doctors, consider changing physicians before filing a disability claim, and certainly well in advance of a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Though no one wants to appear to be a “doctor shopper,” if your physician appears not to believe you are disabled, this will naturally provide the potential to hurt your chances of winning Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

It’s important to note that physician statements usually have little affect on your chances of winning a disability claim at the first two levels of consideration, the initial social security application and the reconsideration appeal. This is because the disability examiners in charge of deciding these claims, who are employed by the state disability determination services agency (DDS), typically make their decisions based on medical records and the opinion of the social security doctor assigned to their unit. There’s a lot of pressure within DDS for examiners to keep the number of approvals down.

However, if you are scheduled for a disability hearing you should do everything in your power to get a statement from your physician in support of your claim, even if it takes several attempts to do so.

The statement should address your residual functional capacity (RFC), spelling out the physical and mental activities or tasks you can or cannot perform due to your impairment. Doctor’s notes are usually not enough; they tend to include symptoms, diagnosis, record of medical treatment, and prognosis without going into detail about how the patient’s ability to participate in substantial gainful activity (earning a living) is affected.

The physician statement does not have to be lengthy, but should be clear regarding residual functional capacity. In fact, there are boilerplate RFC forms that are nothing more than 5- to 8-page check-off forms. They take very little time to complete (about 15 minutes including the time it takes to pull your chart). If you have a disability attorney, the chances are that your attorney will have RFC forms on hand and he or she will probably attempt to get RFC forms completed by your doctor, or doctors, in preparation for a disability hearing.

ALJs (administrative law judges) usually pay more attention to physician RFC statements that help them to decide if a claimant can perform past work, some “other work,” or is unable to work enough to participate in substantial gainful activity; i.e., eligible for disability benefits.

In all candor, at the hearing level a supportive letter or statement from your physician can mean the difference between winning or losing a claim for SSD or SSI. If you are being represented by a disability attorney at your hearing and he or she has not requested such documentation from your physician, you might want to consider your representative about this. It’s that important.

If you are representing yourself at your disability hearing (a bad idea for so many reasons) do not be like the other 90 percent of those who do not hire a disability lawyer and show up to your hearing without a residual functional capacity statement that bears the weight of your physician's opinion (as well as the weight of their signature as the M.D. who treats you).

There are some physicians who absolutely refuse to supply an RFC, be it on the request of a patient or a disability attorney. You can’t know if your physician is one of those unless you ask. Although it may be awkward, if you are filing for SSD or SSI you should ask your physician this question as soon as possible. You have a much better chance of winning benefits if your physician is supportive of your claim, particularly if the physician has been treating you since your symptoms first began.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

If I get denied disability, should I get a lawyer?
Getting disability approved on a reconsideration with an attorney
Denied for disability, then my condition got worse
A "proper" statement from your doctor can have a dramatic effect on your disability case
Should you get a Statement from a Personal Physician for your SSD or SSI Disability Case?
Will my doctor charge me for a letter for my Social Security Disability claim?
Will Social Security Attempt To Get A Letter From Your Doctor To Help Your Case?
Letters from doctors for Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Doctor, Supportive Statements
Reopening of a prior waiver in my disability case
Qualifying for Disability in South Carolina
If you apply for disability in South Carolina
Disability Lawyer in South Carolina

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.