At what point should my doctor provide a letter for my disability case?

Someone recently wondered at what point a doctor should complete a medical source statement (see residual functional capacity form) months before the hearing or just right before the social security hearing.

If your treating physician will agree to complete such a statement on your behalf, it is best to try to have the form completed sometime right before the hearing. This allows the form to be viewed as current medical evidence and indicative of the claimant's true condition and their level of functionality, as expressed by their doctor.

Getting a form from a doctor too far in advance will not necessarily invalidate the information presented; however, logically, it does bring up the question in a disability adjudicator's mind: "Do these limitations currently apply to the claimant". In other words, it may "age out" the form.

Disability claimant's who are not represented prior to their social security hearing and who wish to obtain a medical source statement from their doctor may find it productive to actually take the form to their doctor's office, noting the date of the hearing and the need to receive the completed form back sometime before the hearing takes place.

Claimant's who are represented, on the other hand, will typically not have to bother with this as their disability attorney or non-attorney disability representative "should" be doing this on their own (to my mind, it would be questionable for a representative not to make such an attempt and a claimant who is represented by someone who does not attempt to procure such physician statements should perhaps consider finding other representation)

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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