Letters from doctors for Social Security Disability

Letters from doctors that simply state "My patient is disabled and unable to work" have little value in the eyes of a disability examiner or a federal judge. The Social Security Disability system focuses on a claimant's remaining ability to work, despite their condition, and looks to compare objective evidence regarding a claimant's functionality against the demands of their past work and other types of work they may potentially be suited for.

For this reason, an assessment of a claimant's functionality and limitations by a treating physician can be vital. This is particularly the case at the disability hearing level.

Should a physician submit a supporting statement prior to the disability hearing level In some cases, this type of statement may be instrumental in winning a case at the intial claim and reconsideration levels.

However, state disability processing agencies (where disability examiners decide claims for the social security administration) often do not give credence to the opinion of a treating physician, choosing instead to adopt the opinion of an agency unit physician (employed by social security) who has never treated the claimant, or the opinion of an independent consultative medical examiner (a physician who has performed an outside exam, lasting, perhaps, 10 minutes on average, and who, once again, has no history of treatment with the claimant).

At the disability hearing level, however, attitudes toward statements provided by treating physicians are often remarkably different. And such a statement can certainly win a disability case, as long as the statement is in line with the physician's history of treatment with the claimant.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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