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Your Doctor's Role in Your Social Security Disability Claim

Gordon, Wolf & Carney Aug. 1, 2023

While you may understand the importance of medical records when pursuing Social Security Disability benefits, you might be wondering about the role your doctor plays in seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).   

Contrary to popular belief, your doctor does play a major role in your ability to obtain disability benefits from the SSA, as their statements and medical findings can impact the outcome of your disability claim.   

Our social security disability attorneys at Gordon, Wolf & Carney understand what role your doctor plays in the SSA’s decision to accept/deny your disability claim. We can explain how you should work with your doctor to ensure that you are getting the benefits you deserve. From our office in Towson, Maryland, we help people all across the country apply for disability benefits and appeal the SSA’s denial. 

Visiting Your Doctor About a Disability

If you are thinking of applying for disability benefits, you need to understand the importance of a doctor’s evaluation. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor before applying for disability benefits to ensure that you have the proper documentation to prove your condition.   

Preparation is key when it comes to visiting your doctor about a disability. Think about how your condition affects your ability to work, everyday life, and your ability to function overall. Write down all the limitations you can think of for each medical problem (if you have more than one condition). Lastly, mention the limiting effects of the medication you are currently taking, if any.   

Do not assume that your doctor will be able to understand all the limitations you experience in order to report them to the SSA. No one knows your condition better than you do. Keep a copy of the limitations that were mentioned to your doctor during your visit, and make sure that all of these limitations are then listed on your disability application.    

Can Your Doctor Put You On Disability?

The short answer is, “No.” Your doctor does not have the authority to put you on disability, only the SSA can. Even if your doctor diagnoses you with a disability, that does not automatically make you eligible for disability benefits.   

Instead, you must file an application for disability benefits and wait for the SSA to evaluate your eligibility for these benefits. The SSA will either approve or deny your application. The SSA’s medical experts will review your doctor’s written statement or even interview your doctor when making a decision. If necessary, the SSA may request your medical records or an independent medical examination before accepting/rejecting your claim. 

Your Doctor’s Role in Your Social Security Disability Claim

If your doctor cannot put you on disability, what is their role in the social security disability claims process? Firstly, it is your doctor’s responsibility to provide the SSA with a written statement that describes the circumstances, extent, and limitations of your disability. The statement should be supported by medical evidence and contain detailed information. A note from your doctor arguing that you cannot work may not be enough to get your disability claim approved. The SSA is likely to deny your application for disability benefits if there is no objective medical evidence to prove your disability.   

Given the importance of your doctor’s written statements, you may need to explain to your doctor what they need to provide to the SSA unless your doctor understands the process. The information that needs to be prepared by your doctor includes:  

  • Information about your diagnosis.  

  • The limitations and restrictions of your condition.  

  • The prognosis of your condition.  

  • The extent to which your condition prevents you from engaging in gainful work activity.  

These should be supported by objective medical evidence to ensure that the written statements provided to the SSA are detailed, reliable, and comprehensive. It would be a good idea to have a social security disability attorney review the doctor’s written statements before they are submitted to the SSA.   

Who Does SSA Consider an “Acceptable Medical Source”?

When it comes to reviewing doctors’ written statements, the SSA uses the term “acceptable medical source” to determine whether or not the doctor’s statements and evidence are admissible. But who does the SSA consider an acceptable medical source? According to the SSA’s website, licensed physicians, including medical and osteopathic doctors and licensed psychologists are considered acceptable medical sources.   

The SSA requires acceptable medical sources to officially diagnose the applicant’s disability, provide opinions about the prognosis, provide opinions about the extent of the disability, and treat the applicant’s condition.   

However, the SSA recognizes that some applicants may seek treatment from professionals who do not meet the definition of an “acceptable medical source.” The SSA still gives some validity to objective evidence presented by professionals not considered acceptable medical sources.  

Helping You Get the Support You Need

If you are thinking of applying for disability benefits, time is of the essence. You need to understand what steps to take and what role your doctor plays in the claims process in order to increase your chances of a favorable outcome. At Gordon, Wolf & Carney, our attorneys in Maryland serve clients nationwide to help them through every step of the disability claims process. Contact our office today to get the support you need.