Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

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

SSI Disability Benefits

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

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

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

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

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