Can your doctor actually get you approved for SSD or SSI disability?
The simple answer to this is maybe. Social Security Disability examiners are supposed to give treating physician's opinions weight during medical disability determinations. The reason for this is that they should have more knowledge about the limitations imposed by your disabling condition/conditions. This does not mean it is enough for your doctor to write a simple statement that says you are disabled. Your doctor's treatment notes must contain medical information and testing that support the statement.
Your doctor may help by completing a medical/or psychiatric residual functional capacity form that goes into great detail with regard to your limitations and also offers a section for your physician to provide a diagnosis, response to treatment, and a prognosis. While Social Security actually uses forms known as RFC, or residual functional capacity, statements, lawyers who handle disability claims will send something to a doctor known as a medical source statement. In principle, they are essentially the same type of information-gathering form.
To learn more about medical source statements: What is a medical source statement?
If your doctor would rather provide a non-form statement with your diagnosis, treatment, response to treatment, and their prognosis along with an opinion with regard to your limitations, that would potentially be equally useful.
However, for the most part, it is probably a given that a structured and formatted medical source statement will stand the best chance of providing the information that both an administrative law judge and the Social Security Administration are looking for. This is simply due to the fact that the vast majority of all doctors really have no idea of what information to provide, while forms sent by disability attorneys specifically address the information that is needed.
The important thing to remember is that Social Security Disability is based upon functionality more than specific conditions. If a condition causes severe limitations that could prevent you from working and performing SGA, you may be found disabled.
Conversely, a doctor can hurt your disability claim. It would in the best interest of all disability applicants do get a copy of their medical records prior to filing for disability. Sometimes doctors write things that are not favorable and you should be aware of their opinions prior asking them to complete any kind of statement for you.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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