“Shouldn’t My Doctor Get to Decide Whether I’m Disabled?”
By Rachel Weinhaus, Attorney
Parmele Law Firm, P.C.
As disability lawyers in Springfield, MO we often hear from clients, “My doctor told me that I’m disabled and need to apply for Social Security, but Social Security turned me down. Why?” Though Social Security decides whether you are disabled based on your medical conditions, the question of whether you are disabled is a legal question rather than a medical one. What that mean is that you have to meet Social Security’s definition of disabled, which is different from Medicaid, Veteran Affairs, and Worker’s Compensation definitions of disabled. Your doctor can help though. First, you doctor can complete a Medical Source Statement. A Medical Source Statement is a questionnaire about what kinds of limitations you have as a result of your medical conditions. Medical Source Statement is often better than just a letter from your doctor stating that you can’t work, because your doctor is not trained to decide whether someone can work with certain limitations, but is trained to decide what limitations someone might have with your medical conditions. Then the Judge can look take that list of limitations to a vocational expert and that person can tell the Judge whether you can or can’t work with those limitations.
A Medical Source Statement can cover physical, mental, or other conditions. It is important that your doctor completes the correct form so that the Judge can best understand your condition. If you suffer from seizures, but the doctor completes a Medical Source Statement – Physical form that is intended primarily for orthopedic conditions, then that form won’t be very helpful for the Judge. At the Parmele Law Firm, we help make sure that your doctor completes the correct form to best assist you in your claim. We work exclusively in the area of Disability Law and have helped thousands of people secure benefits all around Missouri, including in Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, and in rural areas as well.
A narrative letter from your doctor can be helpful in addition to the Medical Source Statement, because the doctor can then explain why he or she assigned those limitations to you. Sometimes a doctor is not willing to complete a Medical Source Statement but is willing to write a letter on your behalf. Though you might find this frustrating, it is better than not having a letter at all.
Additionally, sometimes doctors will tell you not to lift over 20 pounds or that you need to elevate your feet hourly or give some other treatment plans. However, not all doctors document this in their medical records. If you get discharge paperwork that doesn’t include this information in the treatment or plan section, call the doctor’s office and confirm that you have these restrictions or limitations. Doctor’s offices often keep track of phone records in the medical records, so if the doctor’s response is “yes,” then that will help ensure that that information is in the record.
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