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The Role of Doctors in Disability Claims

October 15, 2021 Disability

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is more complex than merely telling the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you suffer a disability and are no longer able to work. While your subjective assessments of your condition do carry some weight, the SSA also needs objective medical evidence to evaluate your eligibility for benefits. The best place — indeed, the only place — to obtain such evidence is from your doctor. Doctors thus play significant roles in the Social Security Disability application process, as they are the individuals who are most familiar with your medical condition. Below are a few ways your doctor can help you with your disability claim, according to a Baltimore Social Security Disability lawyer.

Providing a Medical Opinion to the SSA 

Your doctor knows more about your health conditions than anyone else except you. As such, many disability claimants ask their doctors to prepare a medical opinion that they can submit with their application. Medical opinions frequently contain the following elements: 

  • Your diagnosis
  • Whether you have a qualifying condition
  • The extent and expected duration of your condition
  • The treatments you have received and your response to them
  • Whether you meet a disability rating
  • Medical tests and clinical notes that support the opinion

While medical opinions are not dispositive, the SSA considers them to be persuasive, especially if you and your doctor have a lengthy doctor-patient relationship. 

Evaluating Your Ability to Perform Work-Related Tasks

Physicians may not be physical therapists, but they are nonetheless in a qualified position to evaluate whether you can perform work-related tasks such as sitting, standing, lifting, walking, pushing, pulling, and carrying objects. 

Performing Diagnostic Tests

The SSA requires objective medical evidence of an impairment when determining whether a claimant is disabled. This is defined as “signs, laboratory findings, or both, from a medical source.” It does not include symptoms, diagnoses, or medical opinions. If you know that you are going to be applying for Social Security Disability benefits for a certain condition, your doctor may be able to perform the specific diagnostic tests for that condition that the SSA requires. 

Completing a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment

An individual’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is the individual’s remaining ability to do work-related and mental activities after taking his or her disability into account. It is used most often when a claimant does not meet a listed Blue Book impairment, but whose disability may qualify him or her for a medical-vocational allowance. Your doctor may be able to complete an RFC assessment for you.  

Continuing Treatment after a Disability Determination 

Failing to follow your doctor’s orders for the treatment of your condition can result in your disability claim being denied. Your doctor can help you establish and stick to a treatment plan both before, during, and after the disability application process. 

Contact a Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyer 

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you should consider speaking to an attorney who can help you evaluate your case. To get started, please contact Baltimore Social Security Disability lawyer Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.