The Texas Disability Hearing and Doctor Records
Unfortunately, it is a reality that applicants for Social Security Disability and SSI disability in Texas are sometimes put at a disadvantage by their own doctors.
Here are two examples, both of which were recently reported to me by an individual who thought for a long time about whether or not to file for disability, finally did so, was turned down, and is now waiting on a Social Security Disability hearing.
This individual stated that one of her doctors told her (when she inquired about the possibility of the doctor submitting a statement for her case) "I don't want to get involved".
I was very irritated when I heard this, but I was not surprised. This is the same thing I have heard from several hundred claimants over a number of years. The truth is that a detailed statement from a doctor can certainly make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at a hearing. But the ugly truth about many doctors is that, when they are needed to assist on a claim for disability, they refuse to help.
Some of these doctors, of course, simply think that doctor records, i.e. their treatment notes, will be enough. However, this is not the case, largely because a doctor's treatment notes will often lack detail and lack any mention of a patient's functional limitations, caused as a result of their condition. Unfortunately, some doctors do not even bother with rationalizing why they might decline to help on a case. They simply don't want to be bothered. This, of course, is a sad commentary on their professionalism as individuals employed in "caring professions".
Because of incidents like this, I have often written that claimants should, at some point, review their own medical records, simply to get an idea of whether their doctor's records will be helpful, useless, or harmful. Also, well before a hearing, a claimant should speak with their doctor to see if the doctor will be willing to complete a supporting statement. If the doctor expresses reluctance, it may be time to consider finding another--and a more compassionate--doctor.
The individual I spoke to also mentioned that one of her doctors did not see the reason to complete a statement on behalf of her Social Security Disability claim. He stated "I don't need to do that. They have the records from my office. That will be enough".
Some doctors like to believe this sort of thing, but will a patient's doctor records be enough? In this case, no. This individual had already reviewed her medical records with a disability attorney and had concluded that they were next to useless. They said nothing about her ongoing pain, nothing about her inability to stand for more than a few minutes, nothing about her use of a case and her trouble with walking. In short, they were of no use at all. And, that, of course, was why a statement was absolutely needed from this doctor. But, as with the other physician, he did not want to be bothered or have his time consumed.
Can a doctor help you win your case for SSD (Social Security Disability) or SSI? Definitely. But, often, the question is whether or not your particular doctor will be willing to help you.
So, don't wait until right before your hearing. Review your medical records on your own (or with your attorney or representative) to see what they look like. And ask your doctor, point blank, if he or she will be willing to help you with your case by supplying a detailed statement explaining your condition, how it affects you, and how it limits your ability to work.
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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