Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

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Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

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SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Help Your Doctor Help You to Win Social Security Disability or SSI

This title might strike some as odd. Isn't your doctor supposed to be the one who, in an ideal world, helps you to win disability benefits? How do you, as the claimant, help your doctor you in this goal? Is it even possible?

Actually, it is. Here's why. Social security disability claims and SSI claims are decided on one thing. Medical evidence. That medical evidence for a disability claim can be translated into many forms, including physician's notes, discharge summaries, and completed RFC forms from treating physicians. However, it all comes down to medical evidence. But, more than that, the social security administration is not simply looking for medical evidence, but what that evidence says about your ability to work and inability to work.

Many claimants who file for disability make the mistaken assumption that SSA (the social security administration) focuses entirely on the diagnosed conditions that a claimant has. But, in actuality, SSA is not concerned with the condition so much as it is with the limitations that are caused by the condition.

In a nutshell, SSA, when it reviews your medical records, is looking to see whether or not your condition (or conditions) limit you enough so that you are not able to A) perform your past work and B) transition to some form of other work.

So, when a disability examiner or disability judge (an administrative law judge) reviews your medical records, they are looking for signs of limitations. Are you unable to lift more than a certain amount of weight? Do you have trouble sitting for longer than a certain amount of time? Do you have range of motion problems that restrict your ability to reach? Do you have trouble balancing, seeing, hearing, smelling, etc, etc.

The problem, however, is that most doctors don't do a good job of recording a person's functional limitations in their medical notes. In fact, they do a miserable job and as a disability examiner I sometimes found it quite impossible to find any reference whatsoever to a claimant's residual functional capacity anywhere in a doctor's records.

So, back to the title of this post, you can actually help your doctor to "help you" (when they compile their office notes, or, even better, write a detailed statement on your behalf for your disability claim) by letting them know, when you see them on visits, what your functional limitations and problems are.

I.E. if you are having mobility problems, let your doctor know. If you are experiencing pain, let your doctor know. If you are having trouble sitting, standing, walking, grasping, reaching, etc, etc, let your doctor know. And you have to be consistent with this. Because, in many instances, your doctor will not think to ask such questions. But by volunteering the information yourself you can hopefully get your physician to record it in his or her notes. And at that point it becomes medical evidence for your case.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How do I get a copy of my social Security Disability File on disc?
Can You Win disability if You Have Little Medical Documentation?
Can you Buy a House if you are Collecting SSI Disability?
Applying for Disability with high blood pressure
Qualifying for disability and the sets of criteria
Why does Social Security deny so many disability cases?
What do you have to do to get disability?
Will my children get benefits if I get approved for disability?
How much time for a decision on a disability claim?
How long does it take to get SSI Disability Benefits?
When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
Can I get Retroactive SSI Disability Benefits?
How to file for disability in Missouri
Social Security Disability Children Benefits
Allodynia and Filing for Disability

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability lawyer fee - what does an attorney cost?
Social Security Disability appeal status
The status of your social security disability or SSI case
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI tips
Maximum SSDI SSI Disability back pay
SSI disability back pay
How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
What if the SSDI Disability application gets denied?
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions
When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application
After you file and apply for disability
Applying for disability, the application process
Tips for how to get approved for SSDI or SSI
Social Security Disability SSDI SSI Tips
Proving Social Security Disability for a mental condition
SSDI SSI Eligibility Requirements and Criteria
Qualifying for disability benefits (SSDI or SSI)
How does a person qualify for SSDI or SSI disability, how are they eligible?