Including a doctor’s letter in your SSDI claim can help your claim significantly. Doctors add a level of credibility and help examiners understand how your medical condition interferes with your ability to work. Not all doctor’s letters are effective, however. Doctor’s letters can help you when they are supported by the evidence, credible, and consistent with the rest of your claim.
At Disability Advocates Group, we focus our entire legal practice on helping clients obtain SSDI and SSI benefits. We understand the importance of doctor’s letters in SSDI claims. We understand that a well-written doctor’s letter may be the deciding factor in a person’s disability claim. We know how to utilize a doctor’s statement in the most effective way possible, as a critical part of a thorough SSDI claim. Contact our Los Angeles SSDI law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.
The Impact of Doctor’s Letters on SSDI Claims
A letter from your doctor won’t be enough to help you obtain SSDI benefits. When the letter is vague and provides a general statement that you are disabled, it will not impact the decision. Unfortunately, doctors are often busy and tend to write short letters on behalf of their patients. Letters that are lacking in detail or letters that are short will not help your claim.
On the contrary, a well-written letter that includes pertinent, specific examples can help you get approved for SSDI benefits. When doctors write their letters as a medical source statement, they will help your claim tremendously. These statements need to address your physical or mental capacity. They should also address any mental or physical limitations you experienced due to your medical condition.
Doctor’s letters are effective during an applicant’s hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The hearing is the second level of appeal in SSDI claims. Administrative law judges depend on the opinions of medical experts. Administrative law judges lack the expertise to understand how an applicant’s medical condition limits their ability to work and engage in necessary day-to-day activities.
The Elements of Well-Written Doctor’s Letters
Your doctor must explain, in detail, your physical or mental impairments. Stating that your condition prohibits you from working is not enough. Instead, the letter should address any problems you have with physical strength, sensory deficits, cognitive deficits, range of motion problems, or any other limitations. The more detail your doctor can provide, the more effective his or her opinion will be for your claim.
Every medical source statement should include a few different specific elements to be effective. Doctors can use a residual functional capacity (RFC) form when writing a medical condition statement. Doctor’s letters should always include the following elements:
- References to objective medical statements or evidence
- The doctor’s opinion of the specific limitations of the patient, including examples
- An explanation as to how the medical evidence supports your doctor’s opinion
When your doctor provides his or her opinion of your limitations, he or she should give specific examples, not vague statements. For example, if an applicant has an amputated leg due to diabetes, the doctor should explain how the amputation prevents the patient from walking for long distances and lifting heavy objects.
Common Mistakes When Applying for SSDI Benefits
Applying for SSDI benefits is a long and complicated process. Making one simple mistake can result in a denial of your application, and add to the time it takes before receiving benefits. There are several common mistakes that applicants make when applying for benefits. One of those mistakes is applying for SSDI benefits too early. Applicants need to demonstrate that their disability is expected to last at least 12 months. If you’ve just received a diagnosis, you may not have enough medical records to prove that your medical condition will be a long-term disability.
Failure to Follow Your Medical Treatment Plan
Following your doctor’s orders is essential. Social Security Administration examiners who review applications will take your claim less seriously if you miss your medical appointments or do not follow through with your doctor’s orders. Following your medical treatment plan is essential. If an examiner sees that you aren’t following through with your treatment, he or she will be less likely to grant you benefits.
Not Providing Your Own Medical Evidence
The Social Security Administration provides applicants with a consultative exam. Many applicants incorrectly think that this exam will give them all of the evidence they need to support their claim. On the contrary, receiving an examination from your doctor can be incredibly helpful.
Consultative exams often don’t carry enough weight on their own. When a doctor conducts the exam without access to a medical history established, the exam likely won’t provide enough evidence to show that your disability prevents you from working. Consultative exams only provide proof as to your current limitations or physical disabilities. These exams do not show the extent to which your medical disability has hindered you in the past.
Consultative exams are often basic routine physical appointments. Depending on your unique case, the doctor providing the exam may not dig deep enough into your disability. The more evidence you provide in the form of medical exams, blood work, and testing, the better.
Contact Our Experienced Los Angeles SSDI Lawyers Today
You have much to gain by working with an experienced Los Angeles SSDI lawyer. At Disability Advocates Group, our entire legal practice involves helping clients obtain the Social Security benefits they deserve. Receiving SSDI benefits could change you and your family’s life for the better. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. We do not charge our clients legal fees until we secure benefits on their behalf.