Why Doctors Are Important When Applying for SSDI
The process of receiving SSDI benefits can be grueling, and it’s important to make the most of every step along the way. This is especially true when it comes to seeking medical care and getting documentation of your disability. This may seem like an unnecessary step, especially if you feel like your disability is so obvious that you shouldn’t need excessive documentation. However, working with a doctor willing to provide substantial evidence of your disability can make your application much stronger.
Considerable Weight Given to Doctors’ Opinions
The stance Social Security takes on doctors’ opinions has changed over the years, but in general, the administration puts significant trust in the advice of medical doctors. When you submit your application, you will include medical documents, reports, and opinions. From there, the disability judge or examiner will consider the persuasiveness of each opinion and decide from there whether or not the application is approved or denied.
Consistency is important. If, for example, you have one doctor claiming you cannot work at all and will never be able to work again but you have three doctors claiming that you have minor impediments that will likely pass in the next five years, the first doctor’s claims may come off as suspicious.
They Can Help Ensure that you Take the Right Tests
Medical tests play a major role in substantiating the claim that you have a listed condition or one (or multiple) impairments that are medically equivalent. The SSA is very picky about which tests are admissible (and which are not) when applying for benefits. Your doctor can help determine which tests you should take (or retake) to help provide the documentation needed to fulfill the Blue Book requirements. Your doctor can also help ensure that any other necessary documentation (such as hospitalization history, list of prescription you are taking, general physician notes, etc.) is included in your application.
They Can Provide Written Testimony and a Recommendation for Approval
When you apply for SSDI benefits, it is best to include as much evidence as possible regarding your condition. This may include written testimony from those who can attest to your condition; such as family members, friends, those you used to work with, and your treating physician. The written recommendation of your doctor is the most important, because they are qualified medical experts.
Having an Existing Relationship May Help
In the past, Social Security gave preference to opinions from doctors who had ongoing relationships with the applicant. However, this is no longer the case. Equal weight is given to all medical opinions.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you should not focus on getting reports and opinions from doctors who have an existing relationship with you. If your file includes opinions from multiple doctors—including ones assigned by Social Security—they will look at the length of the patient-doctor relationship in determining which opinions have more weight.
Quality of Evidence Matters
Evidence is crucial in any disability claim, and much of it comes from your doctor. This is why it’s helpful to work with a doctor who has substantial experience with disability claims and which types of evidence are required. In fact, this is a deciding factor in some claims. The administration considers the doctor’s familiarity with Social Security rules in determining whose opinion has more weight, so a doctor who regularly sees disability claims could be a significant benefit to your application.
When disability examiners look at your application and file, they spend a lot of time looking at the supportability of your claim. That is, they look for evidence backing up your claim that you are unable to work. A written opinion from your doctor is one way of supporting your claim, but a doctor well-versed in Social Security claims will likely want to strengthen your application with other types of evidence.
This may include blood tests, X-rays, lists of symptoms, and their notes on your progress over time. It’s important to have a doctor who is willing to spend enough time with you and on your file to support your claim, rather than one who simply rushes you out the door as quickly as possible.
Tying Your Condition to the Blue Book
The Social Security Administration maintains a master listing of debilitating conditions (commonly known as the “Blue Book”) that automatically qualify a claimant for SSDI benefits. If your condition is an exact match to one that is listed, you should have an easier time getting approved. The conditions listed in the Blue Book are very specific, and most applicants do not have an exact match. This, however, does not mean you cannot qualify for benefits.
A doctor with experience in SSDI claims will also know the importance of linking your condition to those listed in the SSA Blue Book. The book itself is lengthy and complicated for those outside the medical field, which is why you need to work with a doctor familiar with SSDI claims. If your diagnosis is in the Blue Book, they should be able to provide diagnostic tests and results that meet the requirements of that diagnosis. If it is not in the Blue Book, they should know how to meet the requirements of a disability by showing how your condition is as disabling as another diagnosis.
Contact Us for Help with Your Disability Claim
Securing an approved SSDI claim can be time-consuming and stressful, but you can save substantial time and limit your own stress by working with a disability attorney. Our team is dedicated to helping applicants get the benefits they deserve. If you have had a claim rejected or you want to make sure your application is as strong as possible from the start, we’re here to help. Call Dansby Law at 334-834-7001 or contact us online to set up a consultation.