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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Your doctor’s role in obtaining Social Security disability benefits

Your treating doctor plays a key role in helping you obtain social security disability benefits. The Social Security regulations state that a treating doctor’s opinion is to be given greater weight than the opinion of a consultative examination. That is why it is of the utmost importance for you to inform your treating doctor that you will be seeking social security disability benefits. Getting your doctor’s cooperation and having her work with you through the process is key to your success.

Your doctor is very busy

Your doctor may be juggling loads of patients and paperwork on any given day. If you make him aware, in advance, of the fact that you are seeking benefits he will be much more likely to respond to whatever the Social Security Administration (SSA) or you ask him for. Also, if you have an attorney, make him aware of this also. Normally doctors react with alarm when they hear about anything from an attorney. So taking the alarm out of any attorney contact will go a long way to winning your doctor’s cooperation.

If your doctor does not support you

Sometimes you may come across a doctor who takes the opinion that everyone is capable of work and that a disability should not stop them. This is usually linked to a philosophical stance of that particular doctor. This is a difficult situation to overcome and it is unfortunate because the majority of applicants are legitimately disabled. If your doctor takes this stance, you should change doctors, however, it will make it more difficult for you going forward because it will appear that you are doctor shopping, or searching for a particular doctor that will diagnose you as disabled.

Who are acceptable medical providers?

You may have a terrific relationship with your doctor, but she must be a recognized medical provider in order for her opinion to hold weight. Therefore, ensure that your doctor is licensed and check with the SSA to ensure that her licensing is appropriate.

Obtaining timely and accurate records

In order for your records to hold weight you want to ensure that they are timely and accurate. As far as timeliness, you generally want a diagnosis within the last six months before applying for benefits. A record of your back hurting two years prior to your application will not hold as much weight. Additionally, ask that your doctor keep accurate records. His personal hand written notes may not reveal a clear diagnosis of your condition. Ask that your doctor document your specific condition in order to ensure it conveys your disability correctly.[1]


[1] Berkley, Benjamin H., Win Your Social Security Disability Case, (Sphinx Legal, 2008)

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