Perhaps the most important medical ingredient for a successful Social Security Disability claim is the support of a treating doctor(s). Why? Because SSA, by its own rules, recognizes that treating doctors are in the best position to give a professional opinion regarding a claimant’s impairments and their effect on his\her ability to work.
A properly drafted report by a treating doctor with a substantial history with the claimant, which clearly sets out the objective medical evidence proving a claimant’s impairment and also explains how the symptoms and limitations complained of by that claimant are consistent with the medical evidence, is going to be given special and sometimes controlling weight in Social Security’s disability determination.
Unfortunately, a lot of doctors don’t see helping their patients who have a Social Security Disability claim as a part of their job. Others think a simple letter to Social Security stating that their patient can’t work should be enough. And as doctors focus more and more on managing larger patient loads, responding to a request for a report from a patient’s disability attorney doesn’t rank high on their list of things to do. In fact, many doctors now simply refuse to give such reports and instead suggest referring the patient to a physical therapist who does functional capacity evaluations (FCEs are a series of tests designed to measure how much physical capacity a patient still has). But Social Security doesn’t like FCEs because it recognizes that they are only a snap shot of a claimant’s physical work ability and do not address what that claimant can do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week over 50 weeks.
So over the years I have had to pester, educate, shame and cajole doctors into providing me what my client (their patient) really needs to help his\her disability claim succeed.
As for the claimant’s part, seeing your doctor regularly, truthfully setting out all of your symptoms and complaints and being a good patient by following doctor’s orders can really go a long way toward persuading a doctor to help.