Why does Social Security or DDS disregard my doctor's statement supporting my case?

The answer to that is a little complex. Disability examiners at DDS, or disability determination services, operate in a very different environment from disability judges at the hearing offices. Examiners have supervisors and supervisors tend to hold down the number of approvals that are made in their case processing units.

Why does this occur? Because the disability quality branch tends to focus much more on approved cases than denied cases making approvals more likely to come back as "returns" to a state's DDS agency, thereby creating an incentive for supervisors to hold down the number of disability claim approvals.

I think that this fact contributes in some cases to physician statements being disregarded. However, to be truthful, in some cases those physician statements do not say what needs to be said. I have seen many physician statements simply state "my patient is disabled". That sort of statement is completely useless on a disability claim.

A supporting statement needs to be detailed, and specifically list the ways in which a person is limited; for example, how long can they sit or stand, how much can they lift frequently or occasionally, do they have difficulty reaching, bending, stooping, etc? That is the type of information that the Social Security administration is actually looking for. They want to know how a person's condition actually affects them on a daily basis with regard to what they can and cannot do.

This kind of information can be captured, and can help to win a case, on something known as a medical source statement.

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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