Parmele Law Firm: How to Talk to Your Doctor
By Kathleen Overton, Attorney, PLF
When clients come Parmele Law Firm in Liberty, Missouri, we ask that they list their impairments and their medications. But, when talking to them, we try to emphasize that the Social Security Administration is not concerned with simply their diagnosis. Sure, having a diagnosed impairment from a medical source is important. But, the crucial question is how that impairment impacts the client’s functioning. Essentially, that is what every doctor or lawyer reviewing the medical record is trying to ascertain.
Judging functional limitations is a messy process. Two people with the same diagnosis can function very differently. Any file reviewer—whether an employee of the Social Security Administration or a claimant’s lawyer—must search through what the patient tells the doctor, what the doctor writes, and what the other forms suggest to determine how each impairment impacts functioning. How you talk to your doctor is important.
Often we see in medical records notes that the patient is “doing well” or “fine”. Although we understand that these responses were probably given out of politeness when the doctor first entered the room, these responses can have negative consequences on your Social Security disability claim. Remember, the judge is looking for your limitations in the medical records. Rather than telling the doctor that you are doing “fine,” tell the doctor what limitations you are still experiencing. Knowing that you are still having pain is important, but seeing in the medical record that you are unable to stand to complete a sink full of dishes because of the pain tells the judge how that pain limits you and how it would impact you if you were working.
Just as discussing functional limitations with your doctor is important, so is communicating with your doctor about your treatment plan. For example, if your doctor recommends that you participate in water therapy and you are unable to afford water therapy, tell your doctor and ask for an alternative. Simply not following your doctor’s advice and not explaining why suggests to the judge that maybe your problems are not as bad as you are alleging.
Medical records are crucial in a Social Security disability case. Tell your doctor about your limitations and strive to follow all recommendations. Remember, documentation and consistency are key.
Contact Parmele Law Firm
If you have a disability that impacts your ability to work, talk to a disability lawyer at Parmele Law Firm. Our consultations are completely free and we will not charge you until you win your case. Contact Parmele Law Firm today!