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

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?

    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

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    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?

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    Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

    Filing for disability - when to file

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    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
    Applying for Disability in Missouri
    Will I qualify for SSI disability in Missouri?
    Applying for SSI benefits in Missouri

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

    Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

    Permanent Social Security Disability

    What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

    Who is eligible for SSI disability?

    Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

    What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

    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?

    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.