When you apply for disability benefits or SSI, you need to be receiving medical treatment in order to have the necessary medical evidence to show what your limitations are and why you are unable to work full time.
If you are in treatment – with one doctor or several doctors – make sure that your doctors are aware of your inability to work and also let them know that you have applied for benefits. It is wise to ask your doctor if he or she believes that you are unable to work in any capacity. If your doctor says you should have no problem working or feels that you are just not trying hard enough, you need to re-evaluate whether or not there is some type of work that you may be able to do.
When talking to your doctor or healthcare provider, here are some items that you should discuss:
- Ask your doctor what sort of job he or she thinks you are able to perform.
- Ask if he or she believes you could stand or sit for 6-8 hours per day, five days per week.
- Ask if you could be around people and out of the house 8 hours per day. Ask if you would need to lie down, elevate your legs, or take more rest breaks than traditionally allowed.
- Discuss all of your symptoms and the side effects of your medications, such as sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, frequent urination, and frequent bowel movements, in terms of being able to complete the duties of a job while fighting these symptoms or medication side effects.
It is important to know what your doctor truly believes you are capable of because once your hearing is set, your attorney may want to get more information about your conditions and limitations from your doctor. Many times our clients have no idea about what their doctor thinks about their ability to work or the severity of their limitations because they have simply never asked.
Often, when a client has not had any discussion about his or her disabilities with his or her medical providers, they are unpleasantly surprised to find out their doctor is not supportive or refuses to give any opinions as to their conditions or limitations. If this is discovered a month before the hearing, it may be too late to do anything to remedy this problem.
On the other hand, if you begin the conversation with your doctors as soon as you file for disability benefits or SSI, you will be able to either look to your other providers, possibly find another provider who is willing to help, or even re-evaluate your own impairments and possibly try to do some type of work in order to find out if you can do it and if not, what made working impossible.
If you need more guidance on working with your doctor through the SSI application process, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We help people apply for disability benefits throughout Texas from our offices in Dallas and Houston.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.