If you are applying for SSD benefits, understand that your medical provider may think a letter of your medical condition from him is enough for your SSD application to be approved. Unfortunately, eligibility for benefits requires more than simply a doctor’s note stating that the applicant is disabled. You need a medical evaluation checklist to ensure you are providing all of the right documentation.
Eligibility for SSD benefits requires not only the existence of a disabling condition expected to last more than 12 months or result in your patient’s death; the disabling condition must also make them unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. The more detailed the information your doctor(s) provides regarding your medical condition and its impact on your ability to work, the greater the chance that your SSD application will be approved.
To help, we’ve created this checklist to ensure that the next time you ask for medical information in support of your SSD benefits application, you’ll know exactly what to provide.
- Medical Source Statement. The medical source statement is the most vital document your doctor can provide to support your disability and its impact on your ability to work – yet it is the also the least likely document medical providers turn over. The Social Security Administration blue book contains more than 100 disabling conditions that qualify for SSD benefits, each with its own specific criteria. The medical source statement elicits information that is vital to help you prove that the disability prevents you from being gainfully employed, but which usually is omitted from standard medical records.
A medical source statement that includes a detailed statement of your diagnosis, treatment, functional abilities (what tasks he can perform), and functional deficits (what tasks he cannot perform), provides a clearer picture of the negative impact your disability has on your ability to work. Our office can provide you with the appropriate medical source statement for your particular disability.
- Laboratory and diagnostic reports. All disability claims must be supported by objective medical evidence. Make sure that your doctor provides the results of any and all laboratory or other diagnostic testing, such as blood work, MRIs, X-rays, CT scans and other diagnostic tests. If the SSA requires specific medical testing for your disabling condition, it is important that your doctor performs those tests on you; failure to do so can result in your application being denied.
- Medical notes. Your medical notes can provide a wealth of information detailing your disability, especially if they’re written correctly. The SSA issued new rules in 2017 that now allow them to give the same weight to medical evidence provided by your treating physician as it does to its own medical examiners, who may evaluate you only once, if at all. So, it is more important than ever to give clear, objective information regarding your patient’s disability and its limiting effects on your functional abilities.
You can do this by ensuring that your doctor uses numbers to describe your condition. For example, instead of saying, “Patient’s pain prohibits him from sitting for extended periods” leaves too much open to interpretation. However, writing, “Pain associated with the patient’s condition makes him unable to sit for more than 10 minutes at a time without having to shift positions, and he can sit for no longer than 60 – 90 minutes 7 out of 7 days without needing to lie down for 10-15 minutes to alleviate pain.”
- Treatment notes. Notes regarding your treatment should list the type(s), duration, and results of each course of treatment, current, and past, including the reasons why a treatment was discontinued.
- Medications taken. A list of current and past medications that have been prescribed to treat your condition, whether prescription or over-the-counter medication, should include dosage, frequency, duration, and reasons why any were discontinued or ended early.
If you have any questions regarding the information your doctor(s) should provide in support of your SSD application a law firm can help navigate this for you. Consider the Good Law Group for your representation. Call us Toll-Free at #(847) 577-4476 or complete our complimentary online evaluation form.