Question of the Month: Should I tell my doctor I am filing for disability?

April 1, 2019

In most cases, you should tell your doctor that you are filing for disability. The most common reason that Social Security disability claims are denied is because there is insufficient medical evidence of a disability and inadequate proof of how that condition restricts a person’s ability to work. To improve your chances of winning benefits, it is important to share the right information with your doctor to have the most helpful and specific medical evidence to prove your claim. So how do you initiate the conversation with your doctor about your disability claim? You can start the conversation with your doctors even before you submit a disability claim. This way, they can document your symptoms and limitations that you report, as well as things that they observe and recommend. That being said, in some cases, it is not a good idea to go to your first appointment with your doctor and immediately begin discussing disability benefits. This could raise understandable concerns on the part of the doctor. After all, you are there first and foremost for treatment in order to improve your condition and your functioning.

To maximize the potential for your doctor to understand the severity of your conditions, and the resulting impact on your ability to work, we recommend that you write down as much detail about your conditions as you can recall. Use specific examples of how your disability affects your daily life, interactions with others, and, especially, your ability to work. Bring this information to each appointment so you don’t forget important details.

What if you have multiple doctors? The reality is, in many cases, it is helpful to have a specialist to treat each of your medical conditions. If you have more than one doctor, it is important to tell each doctor that you are filing for disability so that your doctors have the right level of knowledge and documentation. After all, your primary doctor may know you best, but your neurologist may be the best person to document your back pain and help you explain its impact on your ability to work and function.

Our most important advice is: be truthful and cooperative with your healthcare providers. Most doctors want to help you get well so you’ll be able to continue working. It is best for you and the SSA’s understanding of your situation to follow your doctor’s advice and try to do everything you can to get better.