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Doctor has not declared me disabled. Will this hurt my SSDI case?

SSDI and Doctors

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants are often confused about what role their current medical doctor plays in the disability process. Do they have to sign a note that the claimant is disabled? Do they fill out forms for them? What if the disability doctor does not believe the claimant is disabled? Does this hurt the disability case? These are all great questions.

Recently on our disability forum we had a claimant ask, “What if my doctor has never “declared” me disabled. Will this hurt my disability case?” This blog will seek to answer some of the most common questions listed above and clarify what it will mean for your case if your doctor does not state you are disabled.

What role does your doctor play in your disability case?

Many SSDI claimants do not realize the most important thing they need to prove to win SSDI benefits is that they cannot do substantial gainful activity (SGA). How do you prove you cannot work? You will have to have medical evidence in your medical records to support your claim.

So now let’s talk about the first thing the doctor can do for your case. Although they may not want to fill out any special forms, they can make sure they have completely documented your condition in your medical files, and more specifically, your limitations to perform work. Here is where you need the doctor to be as specific as possible. If you cannot sit for more than 30 minutes, this should be listed. If your hands cannot perform fine motor skills, this should be listed. If you cannot maintain a normal work week, this should be listed.

Although electronic records are now the norm, some patients have dozens of illegible medical records in their medical files which are almost useless. If the SSA cannot read your medical records they will be ignored by the SSA.

What if the doctor does not believe you are disabled?

Now, let’s address the claimant’s question. Does the doctor have to “declare” you disabled? No, there does not have to be a note stating that you are disabled in your medical files, but what you do not want is a note stating you are NOT disabled.

If you have a doctor who does not support your case and has listed information such as the claimant can work, the claimant’s claims of disability are not substantiated, or the claimant has no physical or mental limitations, these types of statements can hurt your case.

If you have a doctor who does not support your case but you feel you are very disabled and cannot work, it is time to find a new doctor who does support your case.

What is the most important step to win SSDI benefits?

Another common question asked is, “What can I do to ensure I win SSDI benefits?” Assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, the most important first step is getting great medical care to support your case. You will need a diagnosis, you will need a prognosis, you will need a clear outline of your symptoms and their severity and you will need information about your physical or mental limitations to work. Having this information will give you the best possible chance to win SSDI benefits.
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