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How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
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How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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.








Essential Questions

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Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

How and why to check Social Security Disability Status
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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
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Disability application denied
File for disability, the application
How to get disability benefits
Conditions that get approved for disability
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.