How Doctors Can Help When Applying for Disability Benefits
Being disabled and unable to work is not only a physical challenge, but it may also be an economic and a psychological burden, too. Certainly, when a person is unable to work due to a physical limitation, they may feel frustrated with their disability and lack of ability to earn an income, and very concerned about how they will provide food, shelter, and other basic essentials for themselves and their loved ones.
Luckily, the federal government maintains two types of disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs are designed to provide those with disabilities severe enough to prevent them from working with income assistance.
While the requirements for SSDI and SSI differ, eligibility for both programs require that the applicant has a disability that prevents them from working and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. This is where the importance of a doctor comes in.
The Importance of a Doctor When Applying for SSD/SSI Benefits
To recap, in order to qualify for SSD benefits, you must prove that your disability:
- Prevents you from doing the work you did before;
- Prevents you from being able to adjust to other work; and
- Will last or has lasted for at least 12 months or will result in death.
In order to determine whether or not you have a disability that qualifies you for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine, in the following order:
- If your condition is “severe,” meaning it interferes with working;
- If your condition is found in the adult listing of impairments (you can still qualify even if your condition is not listed); and
- If your condition is noton the list, can you do the work that you did previously? If not, can you adjust to any other type of work?
In order to prove all of the criteria above, you will need to submit a plethora of medical evidence to the SSA. If you do not have a doctor and, therefore, do not have medical evidence to submit, it may be nearly impossible to qualify for benefits.
How Your Doctor Will Help You
Your doctor can provide you with a lot of help during the process of applying for SSDI or SSI benefits. In fact, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before applying for benefits in order to get a precise diagnose and let your doctor know that you will need evidence of your condition. As you move through the process, your doctor can be of assistance by:
- Comparing your condition with a condition found on the listing of adult impairments;
- Taking new medical tests that are recent and confirm that you are indeed suffering from the condition for which you are claiming disability benefits; and
- Providing written testimony recommending to the SSA that you become a benefit recipient.
The last element is especially important, as the SSA will likely request written statements from your treating physician and any specialists you have seen detailing your condition and the limitations that it puts on you. A good statement can be crucial in a claim approval.
What is the Role of the Doctor?
The doctor plays an important role for anyone who is applying for Social Security Disability, because they need the benefits due to a disability that keeps them from earning a living. The doctor may do the following things:
- Regularly visit with the patient to get more details on their disability;
- Provide different methods of treatment to the patient or provide referrals to have the patient visit with specialists and other medical professionals;
- Document a list of the symptoms that a patient is complaining about experiencing when in the office;
- Provide medical records and documents to the Social Security Administration that would support a patient’s claims;
- Provide a statement on behalf of the patient that explains his or her condition in depth.
When a disabled person is regularly seeing their doctor and keeping up with usual appointments, they have a better chance of getting approved for the benefits they need and are hoping to receive. The doctor may act as an advocate on behalf of the patient, because the doctor knows more about the patient’s illness and symptoms than anyone else.
The Social Security Administration wants to make sure they are providing benefits to individuals with legitimate disabilities. After an individual completes an application for the benefits, the SSA may reach out to their primary care physician to get more information. The doctor is often on the patient’s side, because the doctor knows what the patient is going through and will likely continue to go through for the rest of their life.
When is it Best to See the Doctor?
Anyone with plans to apply for Social Security Disability should make it a priority to schedule an appointment with their primary doctor. Although the doctor does not get to decide if a patient gets approved or denied for benefits, the doctor can provide copies of medical records that would make the SSA more aware of the applicant’s disabilities and how those disabilities negatively affect the individual each day.
Some people with disabilities fail to visit the doctor as often as they should. It is not because they are not disabled, but simply because they might not feel comfortable in the office or they might not have a way to get to and from the doctor’s office when they have appointments. These individuals must work on making their appointments and showing up to those appointments.
If they are not going to the doctor’s office, a lack of medical information could cause the individual to have their application for benefits denied. Once an individual receives a denial notice from the SSA, they must then decide if they are going to appeal it or stop trying. Most people would want to appeal the decision because they truly need the benefits to get by.
Working with an Experienced Alabama SSD/SSI Attorney
In addition to keeping your doctor in the loop and working closing with your physician to obtain the evidence you need for your disability claim, you should also work with an experienced Alabama SSDI/SSI attorney. An attorney can review all elements of your application, and will know exactly what the Social Security Administration is looking for, and how to submit a claim with a high chance of approval.
To schedule your free consultation with the offices of Walton Law, LLC, we invite you to call our Alabama disability attorney today at 251-455-5819. You can also contact us online at your convenience.