When you’re trying to get on Social Security disability, your health care professional(s) play a very important role. Not all treating sources are equal when it comes to establishing your disability. Social Security has what it calls “acceptable medical sources.” Its important that you have at least one acceptable medical source and that you are seeing this person regularly. For more information on what kind of medial professionals are acceptable to Social Security, see our post on Acceptable Medical Sources. If you have questions, please contact one of our Boise Social Security Attorneys.
Social security gives a great deal of weight to the opinions of your treating physician. This is because your treating physician sees you regularly, so he or she is most familiar with the nature of your disability and how severe it is. For this reason, it is important that you see your treating physician regularly and often. Its also important that you make the most out of these visits.
Your physician will never be asked to decide if you are disabled or not—Social Security believes it is their job to decide this. However, he or she will usually be asked to give a statement regarding their opinion of how your symptoms will limit your ability to work. Then Social Security will consider these limitations and decide what jobs, if any, you can do.
When you visit your doctor, it is important that you tell him or her all about your symptoms and how they limit you in your daily activities. Be sure to tell your doctor about the duration, location, frequency and intensity of your symptoms and what the aggravating factors are. Also describe things like the side effects of any medications that could keep you from working and if the medication is effective or not. When you do this, what you say will make it into the doctor’s records. For helpful more tips on maximizing the benefit of your doctor’s visits, see our posts on6 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Doctors Visits – Part 1 and Part 2.
If your doctor doesn’t have enough medical evidence in his records for Social Security to decide if you are disabled or not, they may request that you have additional tests or examinations. These tests are not to provide medical treatment to you. Instead, they are meant to give Social Security a recent idea of your condition and limitations. Consultative exams might be psychiatric or physical in nature. Whichever it is, be sure to give them all of your symptoms and describe all of your limitations. If you do have to have tests or exams done by a consulting physician, you won’t have to pay the fee. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these examinations must be done by a physician, osteopath or psychologist (in some circumstances other health professions can be used).
A state agency doctor’s opinion may also be used to determine the outcome of your disability claim. They include osteopaths, psychologists with a Ph.D., and licensed medical doctors. You do not meet these doctors. They make their decision by reviewing and evaluating your medical evidence to see if your impairments meet Social Securities requirements, assessing the severity of your symptoms and how badly they affect your ability to work, and by assessing your remaining physical and mental functions. Medical consultants might also look at ways to get more medical evidence.
If your case goes before an administrative law judge (ALJ), the judge may request the testimony of a medical expert on a complex medical issue. Medical experts differ from medical consultants in that they don’t say whether you should be allowed Social Security disability benefits or not. Their only job is to testify at hearings. Typically they respond to the judge’s questions and give answers for hypothetical situations created by the judge or your disability attorney.
If you have any questions regarding the role of health care professionals in receiving Social Security benefits, please contact one of our Social Security attorneys. They can help you understand the process and know what to say to your doctors to maximize the chances of you winning your hearing.
Originally posted 2014-02-12 15:45:44.