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SSDI: Guidelines For Applying For Benefits

Contact Your Doctor(s)

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Let your doctor know you are filing for SSDI.

  • Ask if the doctor understands the definition of "disability" that Social Security uses for purposes of SSDI. If he or she does not, give the doctor a copy of the SSDI definition of "disability." (For the definition of "disability," see "Disability" For SSDI Purposes.)
  • Be sure he or she supports your claim.  Perhaps the doctor believes you can still work if you receive an accommodation or some kind of help. If you are not familiar with the concept of an "accommodation" see Accommodation

Ask the doctor to write a medical report about your condition and how it affects you. Give the doctor guidance as to what to include in the report. (To learn more, see Medical Evidence Of Your Condition.) 

  • It would be helpful to give the doctor a copy of the documents you file with Social Security, so the doctor's answers can support rather than conflict with your answers. 
  • It would also be helpful if you give the doctor a list of what Social Security considers to be disabling about your health condition. As you will see, even if you don't have all those problems, you can still qualify for SSDI.

Ask if you can have input into a draft of the doctor's report, or to at least see the final copy before it is submitted to Social Security. The objective of reviewing the doctor's report is to assure that it is as supportive of your argument as is reasonably possible. See: What The Doctor Should Include In A Report

Request a copy of your medical records. Check the records to be sure the following parts are readable. (If you cannot read them, the odds are Social Security won't be able to either.) The parts to check are the parts which:

  • Describe your symptoms
  • Describe your symptoms'  effect on your daily and work life
  • Discuss evidence about your health condition.

If you cannot get the medical report or medical records in time to submit them at your first interview, don't hold up starting the application process. Keep pushing the doctor's office for the report and medical record. Submit the record as soon as you can after the initial meeting.

For tips about communicating with your doctor about these subjects, see: How To Talk With Your Doctor About Supporting Your Claim

NOTE: If you are seeing a new doctor, consider waiting until you see him or her a few times before bringing up the subject of disability. Doctors are not likely to support a disability claim if they think you are using them to collect a disability income rather than to get better.

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