How Do I Ask My Doctor to Write My Disability Letter?
Having a doctor’s letter included in your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits application could significantly help your claim. Medical professionals, especially your treating physician, add a level of credibility and helps examiners understand how your condition impedes your ability to work. However, not all doctor’s letters are effective. You want to ensure that, if your doctor provides a letter, their opinions and conclusions are supported by creditable evidence that is consistent with the rest of your claim.
A substantial hurdle facing many SSDI claimants is how they should go about requesting a letter from their doctor. Remember, a letter itself might not lend any weight to your claim if it is inconsistent, lacking details, or is simply a short statement of opinion. You want the letter to specifically address how your medical condition limits your ability to perform the tasks necessary for your job.
The Philadelphia Social Security Disability benefits lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates have decades of experience assisting disabled individuals work through the application process. Our attorneys and staff will work with your doctor and other healthcare providers to gather evidence to support your claim. Below, we offer some ideas and advice on approaching your doctor to request a letter for Social Security. Contact our office at (215) 515-2954 if you have questions about the Social Security Disability benefits process.
The Elements of an Effective Doctor’s Letter
A letter, also known as a medical source statement, from your doctor is not helpful unless it details your physical and mental impairments. Simply stating that “the patient is disabled” or “the patient is prohibited from working” is not sufficient to advance your claim. The letter should address your specific problems, including limitations related to your physical activity, cognitive abilities, and other impairments. The weight Social Security will give your doctor’s letter is directly related to the amount of detail provided.
Your doctor could refer to a residual functional capacity (RFC) form when drafting their medical source statement to provide an outline of the information Social Security will use to determine eligibility. For example, the letter should reference objective medical evidence, offer your doctor’s opinion regarding your specific limitations, and explain how the medical evidence supports their opinion.
Steps to Having Your Doctor Write an Effective Medical Support Statement
Knowing what the letter should include is the first part of the equation. The next part is talking to your doctor about the letter. Below are some tactics that could help you gain your doctor’s support.
Your doctor is a busy person. You are just one of their patients. They have a substantial amount of paperwork to do besides helping you receive disability benefits. You need to court your doctor – you should not assume a physician is just waiting around to write you a letter. Presenting a positive attitude is important – you should never demand that your doctor write a medical source statement.
Build to the Request
The first thing you should consider is having a conversation with your doctor about your disability and its effect on your daily life. Your goal is for your doctor to understand that your limitations are affecting your life. However, you do not want to corner them at the end of an examination or make them feel pressured to have a conversation when other patients are waiting. It might take a few appointments to build up to requesting a medical source statement.
During these conversations, you should provide detailed examples of what you cannot do. Additionally, you should ask your doctor what their opinion is regarding your disability. For example, do they think you should be able to do more, do they believe the impairment will persist, and do they think your condition will improve with medical treatment.
Once you believe you have the doctor engaged, indicate that you are considering applying for disability benefits and ask their opinion on your ability to work. At this point, it is important to be precise.
Prepare for Objections
Your doctor could tell you that you need to see a specialist or that they do not deal with disability claims when you start to talk about applying for SSDI. In some cases, these types of responses are meant to end a conversation so your doctor can move on to their next patient. You are not debating your doctor in this instance; you are appealing to their human nature. For example, you might respond with, “Social Security trusts and values my treating doctor’s opinion more than anyone else’s. I do not want my claim being denied by a doctor who has never treated me and who has only examined me one time.”
Make Sure the Letter Includes Details
Once your doctor has agreed to prepare a letter, you want to ensure that it contains the details necessary to support your claim. Tell your doctor that, while you appreciate it, a letter that only indicates that you are “unable to work” is not enough. Ask him to discuss your specific limitations and how they adversely affect your ability to do your job. If you have any questions, our Allentown disability attorneys are available to help.
Our Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyers Help Our Clients Obtain Medical Evidence
Whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits often depends on the strength of the medical evidence you submit. While not necessary, a medical support statement from your treating physician could be persuasive. Our Pennsylvania disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates have decades of experience piecing together the evidence Social Security wants. Call (215) 515-2954to before talking with your doctor about your disability claim.