Will My Doctor Charge Me to Write a Letter for Social Security Disability?

Your doctor may charge you a fee to fill out a lengthy RFC form, but it's probably worth the money.

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Some doctors charge for writing letters for their patients and some do not. Often, it depends upon the type of letter you want your doctor to write. For instance, if you just want your doctor to write a short letter stating that you are unable to work, you may not be charged. However, through my experience as a Social Security disability examiner, I was aware of doctors who charged even for this kind of letter. My advice is not to waste your money or effort on this kind of letter. Social Security disability examiners give this type of letter no weight when making their determination. All treating physician letters need to be backed up by objective medically determinable evidence and to include explanations for why a patient has limitations or they are worthless.

Doctors' Statements Worth Paying For

The only doctor's "letter" worth paying for is a medical statement that includes a brief medical history, a diagnosis of your impairments, clinical findings, your response to treatment, and your prognosis, along with a comprehensive statement by your treating physician expressing an opinion as to your residual functional capacity (RFC): what you can and can no longer due after taking your condition under consideration.

What the Statement Should Include

The RFC statement should include what your doctor feels you are capable of doing in spite of the functional limitations imposed by your disabling condition. The doctor's opinion should cite the affect your disabling impairment, or impairments, have on your ability to perform such activities as sitting, standing, walking, carrying, handling objects, lifting, or even your ability to hear or speak, if your impairment is physical.

Doctor Statements for Mental Impairments

If you have a mental impairment, your doctor should describe your ability to understand, remember and carry out instructions, and respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers, and work situations. Additionally, your treating physician could include a statement as to how he feels your mental condition or medical condition affects your ability to perform routine daily activities such as taking care of your finances, shopping, driving, household chores, or even if you are able to interact with family and friends.

Amount of Weight Given to Treating Doctors' Opinions

In some cases, Social Security will place an emphasis upon medical evidence from your treating medical doctors. In part, this is because they are most able to give a detailed longitudinal view of your impairment or impairments and they offer a perspective that cannot be garnered from medical findings alone, from Social Security examinations, or from brief hospitalization notes. So if your doctor is willing to complete a detailed statement with the information listed above, it could dramatically improve your chances of being approved for disability, as long as your doctor's statement is supported by medical evidence and not inconsistent with other evidence. Thus, even if your doctor charges you for such a letter (which is likely), it may be well worth paying for.

Written By: Tim Moore, former Social Security disability claims examiner

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