Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.
Many people think that they will easily get Social Security disability benefits because they got a letter from their doctor that states that they are “totally disabled” and cannot work. This is a great first step for obtaining benefits – but it is only a first step. If your doctor is willing to write you a letter that says you are totally disabled, that shows that he or she will support your claim for benefits. The support of a treating physician is very important to your claim.
Equally important to your claim is how your doctor’s opinion is expressed. A brief statement that you are totally disabled and/or that you cannot work will not be given a lot of consideration by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to make sure that your doctor’s opinion is properly considered and given the proper weight, your doctor will need to provide SSA with a “function by function” assessment of your ability to work. SSA wants your doctor to provide them with an opinion that lists specific restrictions, such as how long you can sit, stand, and walk, how much weight you can lift and carry, and any limitation in your ability to get along with co-workers, the public, or to concentrate and follow instructions. Your doctor must also support his opinion with evidence such as examination findings or the results of diagnostic tests (such as MRIs and CT scans). If your doctor’s opinion is not properly expressed, it may not be given the weight it deserves, making it more difficult for you to get the benefits you’re entitled to.
To make sure that our clients get the benefits that they deserve, we contact the treating physicians to gather all of the evidence we need – including opinion evidence in the format required by SSA. If your doctor has told you that you are totally disabled and/or unable to work, please contact us if you need assistance with your claim.