After submitting your application for Social Security disability, you will typically need to provide documented support from your doctor. As your Social Security Disability attorney will tell you, there are a few exceptions to that requirement where approval is automatic, such as when your condition can be found on the impairment listing. However, in most cases, you will be required to submit a Residual Functional Capacity assessment, which must be prepared by your doctor.
What is a Residual Functional Capacity assessment?
In order to determine what you are capable of doing after suffering a disability, a Residual Functional Capacity assessment should be submitted. A Residual Functional Capacity assessment is a detailed report from your doctor that describes the limitations you have as a result of your condition. It also addresses how those limitations affect your ability to do specific work-related activities. Unfortunately, some doctors are unwilling to complete the Residual Functional Capacity assessment form, which makes it difficult for your disability claim to be approved. If you are having this problem, discuss it with your Social Security Disability attorney.
Some doctors may be unwilling to support your claim
There can be many different reasons why doctors are reluctant to help disability claimants. Some reasons include not understanding what is expected, not agreeing with the disability program, or not believing that you are truly disabled. Some doctors simply don’t have the time or money to provide the assessment. Trying to get your doctor’s support depends on the reason they don’t want to help in the first place.
Some doctors are unclear about what is expected
It is not uncommon for some doctors to simply lack understanding as to what is expected. They might assume that the forms that must be completed are lengthy and complicated. So, if they don’t want to spend the time filling out the form, they may be hesitant to help. Another concern that some doctors have is that they will ultimately be called to testify on your behalf or otherwise be involved in a lengthy process. Finally, there are those few doctors who are afraid that their reputations may be adversely affected if Social Security does not agree with the medical opinion they give.
Helping your doctor understand what you need
If you find that your doctor doesn’t fully understand what is expected, you can provide assurance that, once the form is completed and given to the Social Security agency, his or her involvement ends. You can also assure your doctor that his or her opinion regarding your disability will not impact his or her license or practice. If your doctor is hesitant because he believes the process will be too time consuming, simply showing your doctor the Residual Functional Capacity assessment form may help. The necessary information can normally be provided during a normal appointment, as long as the doctor is familiar with your condition.
Your doctor may not know what to submit
Believe it or not, most doctors are unfamiliar with the type of information Social Security expects on order to make the decision to approve disability benefits. One of the steps you can take is to make sure your doctor keeps detailed records of all of your symptoms over an extended period of time. The disability decision depends on the credibility of your statements regarding your condition. In other words, the Social Security Administration must believe what you say about your symptoms, and how those symptoms make it difficult for you to perform basic day-to-day activities. One of the ways they evaluate your credibility is to see whether you sought medical treatment for your condition.
Medical opinions about your disability
Unfortunately, if your doctor does not believe that you are disabled by your condition, it will likely be very difficult to convince her to complete the assessment for you. If the problem is that your doctor believes you can still work regardless of your condition, you may be able to provide the doctor with supportive statements from your employer or co-workers that describe your work-related limitations. If that does not work, you may have to see another doctor. However, be careful not to appear to be “doctor-shopping” as that can be detrimental to your claim.
Social Security will look to see if you comply with your doctor’s instructions
Another way Social Security assesses the validity of your complaints is whether you have complied with the doctor’s recommended treatment by following your doctor’s advice, taking your medication as prescribed, using assistive devices as ordered, and keeping your medical appointments. Otherwise, your failure to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment, may lead Social Security to conclude that your condition is not as severe or limiting as you have represented.
If you have questions regarding disability claims, or any other Social Security Disability concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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