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Applying for Disability Benefits: Your Doctor’s Role

Medical evidence is one of the single most important things you can provide to strengthen your application for SSDI or SSI benefits. The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of disorders eligible to receive disability clearly spells out the criteria for each condition.

Aside from producing the evidence to support this, a doctor may also vouch for the unquantifiable factors that are affecting your ability to work. Ultimately, having a doctor who is supportive can make all the difference in whether or not you get approved for disability benefits.

What to Ask Your Doctor

When you meet with your doctor for the first time following an accident or the diagnosis of an illness, the first thing you should ask is whether or not your condition will prevent you from returning to work. Before you start worrying about the paperwork involved in applying for disability benefits, a realistic assessment of your health and wellbeing is necessary.

It is recommended that you explain to your doctor how your disability affects you on a day-to-day basis. Be specific about any pain or other symptoms you are experiencing. Tell your doctor what your job involves and whether or not you feel up to the task of continuing to do it.

If your doctor recommends taking an extended leave of absence from your work, the next step is to begin accumulating medical evidence to support filing a disability claim. You may want to ask your doctor to write a detailed statement describing the health problem he is treating you for, the limitations it has caused you, and his professional opinion as to whether or not you should continue working on a full time basis.

Remember, the more detailed and objective this letter is, the more persuasive it will be to the examiner deciding your case. Thus, your doctor’s opinion should be directly related to medical testing and findings from physical examinations.  You should also ask for copies of all test results, lab work, x-ray images and other documents related to your condition.

Have Your Doctor Complete An Assessment Form

If you don’t meet the specific medical criteria listed in the Blue Book to automatically be found disabled, your doctor may be able to help you get Social Security disability benefits by completing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment on your behalf. An RFC assessment form completed by your treating doctor is highly valued by SSA decision makers.

This type of assessment form describes your medical impairments and remaining physical ability to perform specific occupational tasks, such as sitting, lifting, or manipulating objects. It will be used to determine the types of jobs you may realistically be able to perform without injuring yourself.

Your Lawyer’s Role

Almost 70% of all SSI and SSDI claims are rejected initially, often due to lack of evidence. While your doctor’s supportive opinion can help you get Social Security benefits, they often don’t understand the Social Security evaluation system the way that a lawyer does. At Ritacco Disability Law, we’ll work with your trusted physician to obtain the evidence that will strengthen your case and improve your chances of success. Find out more by scheduling a free initial consultation today.