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Working and Disability

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Your Medical Evidence

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Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Will my doctor provide a letter or statement for my disability hearing?

Very few people, if any, would ever argue that a medical source statement shouldn't be obtained for an SSD or SSI case. Such statements can be crucial at disability hearings, though, in all candor, they have the potential for being somewhat useless at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal level simply because the state disability processing agencies--generally known as DDS, or disability determination services--operate in a climate of institutional bias that causes them to turn down tens of thousands of claims that judges later approve (government in action, eh?).

But...will your doctor provide such a statement to assist your disability claim at the hearing level? Well, not if you don't ask. That's fairly obvious, of course. However, I think it safe to say that 90+ percent of all unrepresented claimants who go to a hearing without a disability attorney or non-attorney disability representative at their side will not know that they should attempt to get a statement from their treating physician.

Now, if your representative, attorney or otherwise, does not make the attempt to get a statement from one or more of your treating physicians, you may have a valid reason to question the quality of the representation you're getting and you may wish to switch. However, what if your doctor is not entirely willing to supply a statement?

Believe it or not, a sizeble percentage of doctors really aren't so eager to help their patients in this way. I can categorize it as follows:

1. Doctors who willingly and expeditiously provide a statement.

2. Doctors who inevitably provide a statement but only after umpteen follow calls have been made to their office (nurse: "it's on his desk, I'm sure he'll get to it this week"). Very often, following up on getting a form completed means having to fax over another one because, for some reason, they've lost--or keep losing--the original.

3. Doctors who tell you that they'll complete a medical source statement or RFC form, but only for an exorbitant fee (sometimes several hundred dollars). I think this can be reasonably interpreted to mean A) they don't really want to take the 15 minutes required to pull and review a chart and then complete a check-off form and B) they don't feel particularly obliged to help out their patients.

4. Doctors who don't provide such statements at all, even if doing so only involves completing a 5-8 page check-off form. Some doctors will flatly say "I don't do that".

Obviously 3 and 4 are the most problematic. Doctors who fall into category 3 are money grubbers and their patients would be wise to leave them. The latter part of that statement holds true for doctors in category 4.

How will you know which category your doctor will fall into? Unfortunately, that would be difficult to know until the time comes.

One thing is for sure, however: you'll have a better chance of obtaining a supportive statement if your doctor is one that you've seen for a protracted length of time, someone that you have a longitudinal history of treatment with. A doctor that you've only recently switched to may not feel this way at all, and that may simply be human nature along with the fact that the doc has a limited history with you.

Routine doctor switching is probably not the best way to go, and also for reasons that nothing to do with disability claims. However, if you want to get a "feel" on how helpful your own doctor may potentially be, you may wish to review your medical records from the doctor's office and possibly discuss your pending claim in the attempt to discern whether or not your treating physician may be of the mindset to supply a statement to assist with your claim...or not.

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

Related pages:

How to file for disability in California
Qualifying for disability and the sets of criteria
What kind of Social Security disability representative should I use?
SSI disability and living arrangements
Can your own doctor do your Social Security Disability medical examination?
Do doctors help you on a disability claim?
Why does Social Security deny so many disability cases?
What do you have to do to get disability?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Filing for disability with scoliosis
How much does disability pay?
How long will you get disability after an award notice?
How to file for disability in Iowa
How does a Medical Source Statement (RFC Form) help win a disability?
Filing for disability with autism
If Social Security sends you to a psychiatrist

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

How and why to check Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability back pay
Non medical requirements for disability
Qualifying for disability, SSD SSI
When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Who qualifies for SSI?
Forms to complete when filing, applying for disability
How long does SSDI and SSI disability take to get?
Filing for disability with Depression
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits with a Mental Condition
How long for a disability judge to make a decision?
While you are in your disability interview
The SSD and SSI definition of disability
Filing for disability with carpal tunnel syndrome
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Can you work if you get a disability check?
Disability application denied
File for disability, the application
How to get disability benefits
Conditions that get approved for disability
How to Appeal a disability claim denial from Social Security