Social Security disability and SSI disability claims are won and lost on the basis of a claimant's medical records. The SSA should have your doctor's treatment notes, lab reports, x-rays, any imaging studies (for example, MRIs), and, most importantly, statements from your doctor. If your doctor is willing to provide a statement in support of your Social Security disability claim, get one written. But, be aware that statements that essentially say "my patient is 100% disabled and unable to work" are nearly useless.
Social Security disability examiners and judges who hear disability claims are not interested in short statements from personal physicians. The doctor must state why a claimant is unable to work. How can a treating physician do this? Typically, the Social Security Administration is looking for a doctor's evaluation of how well an SSD or SSI disability claimant can:
- perform dexterous hand movements
- reach overhead
- lift a certain amount of weight, and
- perform tasks that are classified as simple, routine, and repetitive.
A doctor should also provide information regarding a patient's:
- general strength levels (typically measured on a 5-point scale)
- grip strength in either hand,
- range of motion in all major joints, and
Unfortunately, many doctors will balk at having to write this type of detailed statement, even though this is exactly what the Social Security Administration is looking for. Nevertheless, claimants who are seriously interested in winning their disability claims should strive to obtain this type of statement from their doctor. A form that allows a doctor to provide this type of detailed statement is called an RFC form. (RFC stands for residual functional capacity.) The Social Security Administration uses one type of RFC form (but unfortunately their form is typically used to deny claimants benefits.) To obtain an RFC form that may assist you in winning your claim, use our free RFC (residual functional capacity) form.