Understand Your Doctor’s Role When You File for Social Security Disability

Doctor with disapproving lookWhen it comes to filing for Social Security disability, you’re going to need your doctor’s assistance, but just how much can your doctor do?

The medical doctor you’ve seen the most for treatment is crucial to the success of your Social Security disability claim. In fact, the judges and administrators deciding on your case are required by law to give the opinion of your treating physician “substantial” weight when approving or denying benefits. As you begin the application process, one of your first steps must be talking to your treating physician. However, sometimes doctors are hesitant, or even opposed, to helping their patients with disability claims. What then?

Understand Your Doctor’s Reluctance

Doctors have many reasons for not wanting to get involved in Social Security disability claims. While some of them can be resolved with basic communication, some indicate fundamental differences of opinion and may be impossible to work out. To start, let’s take a look at some of the objections we’ve heard our clients describe that were fairly easy to resolve:

  • It’s too much paperwork.
  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I don’t want to have to testify in court.
  • I don’t have enough time to deal with drawn-out litigation.
  • I’m worried that the reputation of my practice will be damaged if Social Security disagrees with my assessment.

These sorts of objections often result from basic misconceptions about the disability claims process. We’ve found they’re a lot easier to work out than some of these more challenging ones:

  • I don’t think you are disabled. 
  • I disagree with the Social Security disability program.
  • Helping my patients obtain disability is endorsing government handouts.

If your doctor’s explanation frustrates or offends you—and some of the answers in this second category might—take a deep breath and step back from the conversation. Avoid burning bridges until you have more information. Your doctor could still be one of the most important authorities in your case.

Strategies for Communicating with Your Doctor

To maximize your chances of winning your Social Security disability claim, you need to communicate effectively with your physician. Here are three strategies for doing so that will make your case more effective and help you receive better treatment:

  • Stick to your story. Make sure you provide consistent information to your doctor.
  • Be specific. Tell your doctor exactly what your symptoms are and do so in a focused manner.
  • Make sure your doctor takes notes. Written records are very important to your Social Security disability claim and may make it easier to communicate with your doctor during subsequent appointments.

These simple steps can make a significant different in your medical treatment and Social Security disability application.

But It’s Not Your Doctor’s Job to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits on Your Behalf

Even if your doctor thinks you are disabled, it is not your doctor’s job to submit a Social Security disability application for you. Social Security disability applications are complicated and the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that each application be completed in full and with no errors. It is not as simple as a doctor saying that you are disabled.

Just Because the Doctor Can’t Do it For You Doesn’t Mean You Have to Do It Alone

If you are thinking about filing a Social Security disability application, you are completely disabled, you are unable to work, and you may be facing your own mortality. The last thing you want to do is to spend your time navigating the application process.

Fortunately, you do not have to do this on your own. You have the right to consult with and hire a Social Security disability lawyer who has experience filing successful Social Security disability claims. Your attorney can submit the application for you, making sure that the SSA has all of the information it needs to make a timely determination about your claim, while you concentrate on your health. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation, please start a live chat with us now.

You can also learn more by downloading our FREE report, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.

Carl M. Weisbrod
Connect with me
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law