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

A "proper" statement from your doctor can have a dramatic effect on your disability case

Tip 7:

Your doctor knows what's wrong with you but do they know how it affects you and your remaining functional capacity, i.e. ability to work?

If you have not applied for disability yet, but you think that sometime in the future you may be filing a claim for disability, you may find it beneficial on visits to your doctor to mention specific ways in which you are having difficulty.

In other words, difficulty engaging in certain physical activity such as bending, reaching, stooping, lifting, crouching, or any area (physical or mental) in which you are experiencing reduced functionality.

The reason for this is that the medical records that can have the greatest impact on your case will often be those that come from your own doctor, i.e. your treating physician.

However, unfortunately, it is often the case that doctors will not make reference to your physical or mental functional limitations in their treatment notes--even though this is exactly the information that the Social Security administration is looking for: evidence of specific limitations.

By mentioning--during your office visits to your doctor--how your condition is specifically affecting you, this information regarding your functional limitations may get recorded in your treatment notes for Social Security to later find.

Many people are surprised to learn this, but Social Security disability cases are not won on the basis of simply having a specific condition. Instead, they are won or lost on the basis of the extent to which you are "limited" by a physical or mental condition.

The condition itself does not matter; in fact, in most cases except when a claim is approved on a listing (see definition link below under "terms discussed"), it is almost irrelevant.

Social Security has the primary goal of determining how you are limited, and in what ways, and how this affects your ability to go back to your past job, as well as your ability (if you cannot do your past work) to do some type of other work.

Just as the records from your treating physician's office can be deemed to have higher importance than other medical records, so, too, can a statement that is obtained from your doctor.

Social Security actually grants special significance and deference, and sometimes what is called controlling authority, to the opinion that is given by your doctor, i.e. your treating physician.

And of course your doctor will be in a much better position to rate your functional limitations i.e. your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, reach, etc. if they actually know--from you--what those limitations are.

Terms discussed:

  • Should you get a Statement from a Personal Physician for your SSD or SSI Disability Case?
  • Proving Functional Limitations and why this is Important on a Disability Case
  • List of Impairments for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
  • Will Social Security Attempt To Get A Letter From Your Doctor To Help Your Case?

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

    Related pages:

    A "proper" statement from your doctor can have a dramatic effect on your disability case
    Should you get a Statement from a Personal Physician for your SSD or SSI Disability Case?
    Will my doctor charge me for a letter for my social security disability claim?
    Will Social Security Attempt To Get A Letter From Your Doctor To Help Your Case?
    Letters from doctors for Social Security Disability
    Social Security Disability Doctor, Supportive Statements

    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 answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria