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What are Social Security Doctors Looking For?

What are Social Security Doctors Looking for?

At Sharon Christie Law, a Baltimore Social Security Disability Law Firm, we are often asked the question, what are Social Security Doctors looking for when they are reviewing your case? In this video, Sharon Christie examines this question and provides you with the answer.

Official Transcript: What are Social Security Doctors Looking for?

Hi, I’m Sharon Christie your nurse attorney for social security disability benefits. Today I wanted to talk about what the doctors who work for social security are looking for when they look at your medical records. 

Now if you’ve been watching my videos you know that at the initial stage and at the reconsideration stage your medical evidence is sent to medical doctors who work for social security doing nothing but reviewing medical evidence and they’ll write up a report of their opinions and their findings. So, what are they looking for in terms of disability to try to decide whether you are disabled or not?

What they’re looking for is what are what we call functional limitations. Now what does that mean? What that means is they are looking for the evidence that shows first of all what is wrong with you. Secondly, what treatments have you tried and how have you responded to those treatments? Then most importantly what functional limitations do you have even with all the treatment that you’ve received. 

Now functional limitations mean how does your condition with treatment interfere with your day-to-day functioning. Then how would that interfere with your ability to work. So, lets take the example of someone who has herniated discs that cause severe pain. Ultimately, they’ve tried physical therapy, they tried injections, they tried medications, none of that relieved the pain or didn’t relieve it significantly. Then they had to go on to have surgery. Even after the surgery This is somebody who still has sever pain in their back, it may move to their legs, it may affect a lot of functional activities like walking. 

Now this may be somebody who can now only walk with a cane or a walker because they’re not steady enough to walk by themselves. They can only walk short distances, maybe a block, maybe a little more than that, maybe a little less before they have to stop. This is somebody who functionally trying to sit is having a lot of problems because while they can do it for a while in a regular or straight back chair, maybe 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. Then the pain is so severe they have to go lie down. This is somebody who has interference in functional limitations in terms of just doing regular chores around the house. They can’t bend, they can’t twist, they can’t stoop down or kneel like to scrub a floor. They can’t do that. They can’t even bend over to use that swifter mop because there is too much pain in the back. 

So, those are some examples of functional limitations and what these doctors are looking for is what does the evidence show about those limitations. Now how’s that going to show up in your medical records? The biggest way it’s going to show up is if you’re telling your doctors. You have to tell your doctors not only what your symptoms are and what they problems are that you’re having, how you’re reacting to the medicine, but tell them (your doctor) what problems you still have just doing your regular day to day activities. Bathing, dressing, preparing meals, doing your chores around the house, driving your car, going to the store if you have to go to the grocery store, going to the doctor’s office itself. Maybe you even have difficulty getting into the office, walking into the office. You want to make sure that you tell your doctor all of those problems so he or she gets a better understanding of how limited you are and that may you know then feed into in effect what kind of treatment might be necessary. Also, so that we can have a record in your medical evidence of what limitations you have. 

Then the doctors reviewing the records for social security will see it and they then have to correlate it with your medical problems. To determine whether they believe the level of impairment you have, the level of functional limitation you have is consistent with the medical problems that are proven by your medical records. 

So, it is a process but the way that you can help yourself the most is to be very clear with your doctors about what your functional limitations are and how your condition affects you on a day-to-day basis.  

The Path to Social Security Disability Benefits with Sharon Christie Law

Step 1: Understanding Social Security’s Definition of Disabled

The definition of disabled, according to Social Security, is that you have severe limitations from your health problems that keep you from doing any kind of work for at least 12 consecutive months. This is the first thing we look at when evaluating your case. Your diagnosis is just the starting point. To get disability benefits for you, we must prove that your disabling condition causes severe limitations in your day to day activities.

Step 2: Medical Records in Your Disability Case

You must have medical evidence to prove your disability case. The most important evidence is your medical records that show your diagnosis, your symptoms, and your response to treatment.

Step 3: Don’t go it alone: How Sharon Christie Law Can Help You

At Sharon Christie Law, a Social Security Disability Law Firm, we recognize that no one ever plans to get so sick that they have to stop working. When you need to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits we recognize that you will be anxious about the process and whether you can qualify for disability benefits. Our goal at Sharon Christie Law is to help you win your case and give you the financial stability you need! Why work with us?

We do it all for you: At Sharon Christie Law we handle all aspects of the case for you, from preparing and filing your application through the hearing with a judge. We are with you every step of the way.  When working with us, you focus on feeling better, and we focus on winning your case.

We return your phone calls: We understand that you have many questions regarding Social Security Disability Benefits. We never want you to wonder what is happening with your case. We are here to answer your questions. All phone calls and emails are returned within 24 hours. That is our promise to you.

We believe in client education: The Social Security Disability process is confusing. We think it is important that you understand each step in the process. So, we created a section on our website that is accessible only to clients. This client’s only section tells you everything you need to know about the disability process.