Applying for and receiving Social Security Disability benefits requires submitting proof that you have a disability. The most common and effective form of evidence of a disability is a letter from a treating physician. The doctor’s letter should contain a complete diagnosis of the applicant’s condition and the doctor’s opinion on the applicant’s ability to perform specific tasks and support for that opinion.
Making sure you have adequate proof of your disability is a daunting task, one that Jon Sipes Attorney at Law can assist you with. El Paso, Texas disability attorney Jon Sipes understands the requirements of proving a disability and can work with you to make sure your doctor’s letter includes all the necessary information to present a compelling case to the Social Security Administration.
What are social security benefits?
There are two types of Social Security Disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Eligibility depends on the number of years an individual has worked and paid Social Security taxes. The SSDI program requires that an individual has worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least ten years.
The SSDI is unavailable to individuals who have never worked or paid Social Security taxes or have not worked for more than 10 years. Individuals who are ineligible for SSDI may apply for the need-based SSI program available to those with disabilities, are elderly, or are blind.
SSDI payments are based on the amount an individual pays into the system; therefore, SSDI payments are generally larger than SSI payments. Another difference between the two programs is healthcare: those approved for SSI are eligible for Medicaid immediately, while those approved for SSDI must wait two years to qualify for Medicare.
What is a disability?
A disability is defined as a severe, long-term medical condition that is expected to continue for at least one year or result in death. Also, the medical condition must prevent the individual from performing any substantial gainful activity. In 2020, the Social Security Administration recognizes substantial gainful activity as performing work that results in earnings of more than $1,260 per month.
What do I need to show evidence of a disability?
Evidence of a disability comes in many forms, such as medical records, medical examinations and tests, and employment history. One of the most compelling forms of evidence of a disability is a doctor’s letter that provides an evaluation of the applicant’s medical condition and explains how that medical condition limits the applicant’s ability to perform work.
What should be included in a doctor’s letter?
A doctor’s letter, or “medical source statement,” should analyze an applicant’s physical or mental condition, specifically noting any limitations that result from the applicant’s physical or mental condition and medical issues.
The strongest letters or statements will include:
- Objective medical evidence;
- A doctor’s medical opinion as to medical limitations, such as the ability to stand, walk, lift weights, or focus;
- A doctor’s medical opinion as to whether the applicant is disabled; and/or
- A doctor’s explanation of how medical evidence supports his or her opinion as to the applicant’s limitations or disability.
To make the process easier, the Social Security Administration provides a form that allows doctors to access an applicant’s residual functional capacity, or ability to work despite physical or mental limitations. The more thorough a doctor is in describing an applicant’s disability and the medical evidence that supports finding the disability, the better the chances are of a finding that the applicant is disabled.
Why are doctor’s letters or evaluations so important?
Your treating physician is one of the only people with the knowledge and skill to place your objective medical condition in the context of your ability to work. Your doctor, who is familiar with your medical history, can evaluate the information provided by medical tests, lab results, and your self-reported symptoms and translate that data into a diagnosis. With a diagnosis, the doctor can provide insight into whether your medical condition is likely to improve with treatment or whether you suffer from a long term medical disability.
Consult with a Social Security Disability Attorney
If you believe you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits and need to obtain a statement from your medical provider, it can be helpful to discuss your case with an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney. Qualified attorneys, such as Jon Sipes, know what Social Security Administration examiners look for in an application and can assist you in discussing your medical condition and needs with your doctor. If you are applying for disability benefits or have been denied benefits in the past, contact El Paso law firm Jon Sipes Attorney at Law to discuss your claim today.