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

What do Doctors Know about Social Security Disability?

Someone, in a comment, recently said that their doctor would not fill out an RFC form for them to help them with their case. Apparently, he held the opinion that it wasn't his job to do but the job of social security. I wince when I read things like this for two reasons.

First of all, I hate reading that someone's treating physician won't help them prepare them for their disability hearing (something that, these days, may take two years or longer to get to), particularly when a completed medical source statement from the claimant's doctor can potentially carry the day at a hearing and especially considering the fact that it may only take ten minutes or so to complete such a form.

Secondly, it illustrates yet again that many, perhaps most doctors, know very little about the federal government's two disability programs, Social Security Disability and SSI.

For instance, many doctors labor under an illogical belief that if they submit a simple statement categorically declaring that their patient is disabled, that should be enough to close a case and award someone benefits. Such beliefs, however, reveal a complete ignorance of how Social Security Disability and SSI disability actually work.

Both programs are guided by a definition of disability that requires a claimant to prove, through medical record documentation, and possibly statements from treating physicians, that their condition results in functional limitations severe enough to rule out the ability to engage in substantial and gainful work activity, either of a kind that they've done before (known as past relevant work), or of a kind suited and relevant to their job skills, age, education, and current limitations (known, appropriately enough, as "other work").

As such, what is required of disability adjudicators--the individual examiners and administrative law judges who make decisions on claims--is that a claimant's medical history be evaluated thoroughly enough so that their functional limitations may be ascertained to determine if they actually can go back to a former job, or engage in some type of other work.

Unfortunately, most medical records provide little input as to the effects a claimant's condition has on their physical or mental function (the ability to sit, stand, reach, lift, remember, maintain concentration, etc). This being the case, detailed statements from physicians regarding a patient's residual functional capacity i.e. what they can still do despite their condition, can be extraordinarily helpful to a disability claim, especially in light of the fact that physician's notes typically do not make much useful reference to functionality.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

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

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Will inheriting affect my eligibility to receive disability?
Someone to help with my Social Security Disability case
Social Security Disability SSI appeals deadlines
How to file for disability in Connecticut
When do I get my disability check and back pay check?
When do you get a letter about your disability benefit amount?
Applying for SSD and SSI at the same time
Help from a disability attorney
Decision by the judge at a disability hearing
Filing for disability with herniated disc
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
When Social Security Disability Sends You To A Doctor, What Kind Is It?
How much does disability pay?
How long will you get disability after an award notice?
If Social Security sends you to a psychiatrist

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

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.