An essential element to winning your Social Security Disability claim is presenting evidence of continued medical treatment and care from a health care professional.
While a family doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of your impairment is a good starting point, a medical statement and treatment from a specialist likely will carry more weight with Social Security and the administrative law judge who will preside at your appeal hearing.
For example, let’s say you have debilitating back pain. Your primary doctor may know you best, but a neurologist may be the best person to accurately document your back pain and explain its impact on your ability to work and function.
Consistency is critical to your case. If a disability judge sees that your reports of symptoms are consistent with the medical records, you have a much higher chance of winning your case.
And you have a better chance of showing this consistency with a medical specialist with experience and especially board certification in treating your condition.
In addition, if you only see a family doctor, Social Security may believe that your condition is not as severe as you allege. At Nash Disability Law, we strongly encourage our clients to see specialists to document their cases.
To find a specialist, a good place to start is with your primary care physician. Explain to him or her that you are applying for Social Security Disability and that you would like to get an appointment with a specialist. After your physician has made a referral, follow up by setting an appointment.
In most cases, you should tell your specialist that you are filing for disability. That being said, it is generally not a good idea to go to your first appointment with a specialist 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 to improve your condition and functioning, not just to get benefits.
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—so you’ll 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 doctor even before you submit a disability claim. This way, they can document the symptoms and limitations that you report, as well as things that they observe and recommend.
If you have more than one medical condition, the Social Security Administration must take into consideration all of your impairments when deciding whether or not you qualify for disability benefits.
For example, let’s say you have a disease like arthritis, which causes chronic pain, and another illness that affects your respiratory system, like asthma. Or you have carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as panic disorder.
While the symptoms of these diseases, on their own, may not prevent you from working, when they act together, they may be disabling.
Therefore, being armed with the opinions and medical records from multiple specialists can further your case.
One of the most important pieces of evidence in a Social Security Disability case is your own treating doctor’s opinion about your conditions and limitations.
Social Security is often persuaded by the opinion of your physician, because that person has first-hand knowledge of your medical condition and prognosis and is often in a better and more informed position to provide information on what you can and cannot do.
This is particularly the case if the physician is a specialist. If a specialist submits his or her medical opinion supported by a comprehensive opinion about what Social Security calls your “residual functional capacity” (RFC) that is consistent with the medical evidence, you have a much stronger case and a much-improved chance of being awarded disability benefits.
In sum, top-notch medical and legal advice are the most effective tools in winning Social Security Disability benefits.
For knowledgeable and skilled legal guidance contact the disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation.