Friday, April 03, 2009

How to Get Disability with a Back Injury

Someone wrote in and said that they had sustained multiple back injuries and needed to file for disability. They were wondering how they should start and mentioned that their doctor would be supporting their claim with a letter he was writing. This is what I wrote back.

The first step is always to get a disability application interview scheduled and attend it. My own personal advice is to forego the online process. It isn't the the best way of applying because A) you will have questions that the website cannot answer and B) in many instances, a claims rep at a social security office will still need to contact you anyway to get certain questions answered. For these reasons, filing online isn't really as practical as many people think. The social security administration tries to push the idea of filing for disability online because they have manpower issues, but do yourself a favor and apply in person where you can have the chance to ask questions and get them answered directly.

Now, as to your question, how to get disability, I will tell you that the decision on your claim will be based on whatever functional limitations are indicated in your medical records and it's great that your doctor is willing to supply a statement on your behalf.

However, the doctor's statement does not guarantee that you will be awarded disability. This is for a couple of reasons.

First, the disability system does not give proper credence to the opinions of treating physicians at the lower levels (disability application and reconsideration) as compared to the hearing level where a judge presides. Second, most doctors do not supply statements that are helpful.

Your doctor needs to supply a statement that details your functional limitations, not simply a statement that says you are disabled. And for this purpose I would recommend having your doctor complete an RFC form. However, I will warn you that even solid RFC forms are sometimes effectively ignored by disability examiners. So, you may wish to consider the fact that you may be in the position of having to ask your doctor to complete an RFC form on your behalf at the initial claim level and, if you are denied, later at the disability hearing level.

Having said that, its still not a bad idea to get a completed RFC form submitted when you file your initial claim. Just be aware that it may not carry as much weight as it might at a hearing, if a hearing becomes necessary.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

How do you apply for Social Security Disability or SSI - How to file
Social Security Disability - What is it and Can you qualify for it?
SSI Claim for Disability Benefits
How to get approved for SSI
Social Security Disability Requirements
Social Security Disability Requirements and Eligibility Criteria

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