How Your Treating Doctor Can Help You Win Your Benefits

When it comes to winning Social Security disability cases, the name of the game is evidence. Namely, medical evidence from your doctors are vital to proving that you have a medically determinable impairment. What does this medical evidence look like? Usually it comes in the form of standard medical records. Your doctor produces these records each time you see him or her. These records contain your complaints (subjective), the medical findings (objective), and any diagnoses. While these are certainly helpful, another form of medical evidence can go even further in bolstering your claim.


I'm talking about a medical source statement. This is a statement from your treating doctor saying what you can and cannot do due to your impairments. While these statements can vary, Social Security has standard forms available to the public (https://soarworks.prainc.com/sites/soarworks.prainc.com/files/HA-1151.pdf). However, you are permitted to use any form you choose, as long as it is completed and signed by a medical professional treating you. I have created my own medical source statement forms, based on years of representing claimants, that are much more detailed and comprehensive than those used by SSA. An important piece of advice about having these forms completed: if possible, have them completed by an actual doctor (MD, DO, or Psy. D). While I respect the knowledge and expertise of other medical professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the SSA does not; these are not considered "acceptable medical sources" whose opinions may be used to established the severity of your impairments. In layman's terms, a medical source statement doesn't amount to much unless a bona fide doctor signs it.


Many doctors are wary about completing these forms. They are often under the mistaken assumption that they may be deposed or subpoenaed. In reality, Social Security cases do not involve depositions, and administrative subpoenas are rarely issued. The medical source statement is simply a professional opinion; it is up to SSA to determine how much weight to give it. 


This brings me to another important principle in Social Security disability law: the treating source rule. Codified in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2), it states that "[I]f we find that a treating source's opinion on the issue(s) of the nature and severity of your impairment(s) is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in your case record, we will give it controlling weight." Therefore, if your doctor's notes are rooted in objective evidence, and the medical source statement is consistent with them, then SSA must give that statement controlling weight. This is a powerful tool in the hands of an educated, well-prepared claimant. 

All things considered, a medical source statement, completed by your treating doctor, can bolster your case, especially when combined with the treating source rule. 

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This website is an advertisement for legal services. Merely contacting this office does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to constitute legal advice. You should seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances. Offices located in Kentucky. Our firm serves clients in all 50 states. Services may be performed by others.  

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