Many doctor’s have an “office policy” that they won’t fill out disability paperwork. Many of our readers have found that they were still able to get the paperwork they needed! Here’s how they did it:
TRY BEING CLEARER
Some people feel shy, hesitant, embarrassed or confused about accepting their disability. This can make it hard for your doctor to understand how sick you are or why you are applying for disability. Here’s a few ideas for how you can have talk to your doctor during your regular visits and how you can talk to your doc about your disability application. Give it a try. See if your doctor becomes more supportive.
TRY BEING NICE
Some people get really upset when they don’t get the support they were hoping for. Totally understandable. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is not your doctor’s job to fill out your disability paperwork. She does not have to do this. You are asking a favor.
TRY ASKING THE RIGHT PERSON
When you apply for disability, there are two things it will help you a LOT to get. You want to ask the right person so you can get what you need.
ONE: Full medical records with all treatment notes. You get these by making a request to the front desk or to the records department. You’ll need to pay money, but sometimes you can get a discount. Very important: Do not get visit summaries and do not look online. How to Collect All Your Medical Records (Keyword: All)
TWO: Forms or letters – Very important: Never ask anyone except your doctor. If you ask anyone else who works there, 90% of the time, they will say: “We don’t do disability paperwork.” Ideally, meet face-to-face in person with your doc and ask directly.
TRY MAKING A SPECIAL APPOINTMENT
If you or your lawyer mail in a form, the chances of getting a good, accurate response are low. You will either get back a form that is missing important information or (more likely) you will get nothing. Violet did a super job with this: How Violet Got More Function Forms than Anybody Ever
TRY GETTING SEVERAL DOCTORS
Sometimes having more than one doctor or specialist can make be really helpful. Some doctors are really great at filling out forms or letters and some or not. If you ask enough of them, you will find one that is good! Here’s How Jasmine Got Approved By Requesting Multiple Letters
TRY GETTING A CO-SIGN
Some doctors are not willing to fill out forms or write letters themselves. But if someone else fills it out, the doctor is willing to review what is written and co-sign it. Doctors hate paperwork, but they don’t mind taking three minutes to sign something!
If you have a nurse, counselor, Social Worker, or Case Worker, or someone else who assists you, see if they might be willing to work on the form with you, and then you can bring it to your doc and request a co-sign.
Or you can ask your doctor if there is someone else at her practice who would be willing to meet with you about filling out the form, and then bring it to the doc for a co-sign.
This technique is practiced SOAR, a government program that helps homeless people get approved for disability in less than three months. They have a Social Worker or Case Worker prepare the paperwork, then all the doctor has to do is read and sign. Belladonna did it this way too: How Belladonna Used Ninja Skills to Get a Good Doctor’s Report
TRY BRINGING A SAMPLE
Many of our readers here report that bringing a sample draft of a letter or sample completed form was the only thing that worked.
That is what Daffodil did: “My doctor told me she did not fill out disability paperwork in her practice. At the next visit, I asked her if she would reconsider just this one time, for just this one form, and explained how important it was for me. I handed her two forms. One was complete and the other was blank. I encouraged her to use whichever form she wanted and to make any changes to reflect her medical opinion and knowledge of my case. She has been my doctor for many years and already knew my case very well. She reviewed everything, made a few changes, signed it, and handed it back to me. I understand why a doctor wouldn’t want to spend several hours sifting through all my records and filling out a long form – but this only took her ten minutes.”
Daisy also brought her doctor a sample: How Daisy Won Her Disability Case with a Doctor’s Letter
TRY SWITCHING DOCTOR
Some doctors simply won’t do paperwork under any circumstances. If you try everything on this page, and your doctor still won’t cooperate, sometimes a new doctor is the best solution. Here’s a great story that may inspire you: Dandelion Switches Doctors
TRY LOOKING FOR RED FLAGS
Some doctor’s simply do not support any patients to be on disability for their own personal or political reasons. It may help to talk with your doctor and try to get a sense of why they don’t want to fill out paperwork.
If you think that your doctor is saying no to paperwork because they simply hate paperwork, this is not a big deal. Keep trying things on this page. Many doctors hate paperwork, but can come around.
On the other hand, if you think your doctor is saying no to paperwork because they hate disability and hate when their patients go on disability, that is a different situation! Sadly, some doctors do feel this way, and the things they write in a patient’s records can make it impossible to get approved, even if the patient is genuinely very ill.
If you tell your doctor that you are applying for disability and your doctor says she is focused on getting you to work again, this is a huge red flag.
TRY FIGURING OUT THE PROBLEM
Some patients give their doctors mixed messages, and then wonder why their doctor isn’t in full support of their disability applications. Dahlia thought her doctor was the problem, but it turned out that was not the problem: Dahlia Finds a Surprise in Her Medical Records
TRY MAKING A LIST
It can be helpful to give your doctor a list of your diagnosis, symptoms and limitations. Find out how to do that in this This Article By Doctor David Morton.
TRY EDUCATING YOUR DOCTOR
Some doctors think that in order to qualify as “disabled” you need to be bedridden or wheel-chair bound or permanently sick. This is not true. You can try asking your doctor if he believes that you are not able to work full-time. If he says yes, you can let him know that this is the social security definition of disability: You cannot maintain full time work (more than $1,170 per month) and you have a condition that is expected to last at least twelve months. If your doctor seems unsure, you can print and show her a copy of the regulations.
TRY BRINGING AN OUTLINE OF YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY
Your doctor is definitely not going to spend 5 hours going through all of your medical records to find all the correct information to go onto disability forms. But maybe you can spend 5 hours doing this. Or maybe a friend or loved one can assist you. If you can bring your doctor a brief (one page) overview of your medical information, functioning information, medical test results, and medical history, that may help a great deal with getting paperwork filled out more quickly and accurately.
TRY REASSURING YOUR DOCTOR
Some doctors think that supporting your application means they will have to go to court! Not true. Make sure they understand that you are not asking for a big time commitment and that you do not want to take up a lot of their time. Try asking if your doctor would be willing to have just one or two appointments with you to go over some questions about your condition and your application.
Some doctors have experiences with Long Term Disability (employer disability). These policies require a LOT of paperwork. If you are applying for Social Security disability, you don’t need this much paperwork! Reassure your doctor that you are only asking for one form or letter.
TRY ASKING FOR LESS
Never ask your doctor to review or fill out your disability application with you. This is way outside of your doctor’s job. Try asking your doctor to fill out an rfc function form for you and see if they will do this one form.
If you are applying for LTD disability through your employer, this one form will not be enough. However, for Social Security, one form plus good records may be enough.
TRY BEING HAPPY
If your doc doesn’t believe you are disabled or thinks you should go back to work and won’t fill out disability paperwork, THANK GOD they said no to the paperwork. Paperwork from a doctor like that can really hurt your case. Thankfully, they told you the truth.
TRY BRINGING A LETTER FROM ANOTHER DOC
If you have an excellent medical summary letter or rfc form from another doctor or from your past doctor, try bringing this with you. This may help your doctor gain a better understanding of your medical condition and be more willing to accept your disability. Of course, only bring this if it is very strong and clearly shows you are disabled.
TRY ACCEPTING A FEE
Here’s a great tip from a reader here: “If my doctor couldn’t complete the paperwork during my appointment time, she’d let me know that she’d have to bill me for time outside of our appointment. Insurance didn’t cover her time spent filling out paperwork outside of the appointment. It wasn’t incredibly expensive and was well worth it to keep my disability benefits. I would recommend that if people have a supportive doc but there is not enough time during appointments to fill out certain paperwork, ask if the doctor can bill them for time spent outside of the appointment filling out a form.”
TRY CHECKING YOUR RECORDS
If your doctor is generally supportive but unwilling to fill out any additional paperwork with you, then you can get copies of your medical records and see how strong they are. If your records are already strong, you may be able to get approved without needing any additional paperwork.
Once again: Do not get visit summaries. Do not check your records online. You will need to get full records with treatment notes.
When you look through your records, ideally you would like to see three things: 1) Show that your condition is severe 2) discuss your functional limitations 3) include some kind of medical evidence or test results.
Functional limitations include things like: your ability to sit, stand, walk, bend, focus, concentrate, or function in other ways.
TRY ASKING IN A DIFFERENT WAY
Sometimes doctors want to help you, but don’t understand what you are asking for or what kind of support you are wanting. Here’s an example of two conversations that can happen with the same doctor:
GOOD DOCTOR / BAD CONVERSATION
You: “Doc, I’m so sick all the time. I’m worried I won’t be able to work again. I really want to work but I am in so much pain and I can’t stand up. I have no money. What should I do?”
Doctor: “I believe in you. I believe you will be able to work. Maybe you can find a job you can do sitting down.”
You: “I want to work but I’m so sick. I wonder if I should apply for disability.”
Doctor: “Don’t give up hope. We can try a different medication. Maybe you can try working part time.”
GOOD DOCTOR / GOOD CONVERSATION
You: “Doc, I am completely disabled and unable to work. I am applying for Social Security Disability. I know that disability will give me medicine and healthcare and keep me from being homeless. I would be so grateful for your support. I am wondering what your medical opinion is and if you support my claim for disability?”
Doctor: “Yes. I believe in you. I support your application for disability”
You: “Thank you. I am so appreciative for your help. I promise that I will not have a lot of paperwork, but if I bring you one form, would you be willing to look at it with me and see if it is something you might be able to fill out?”
Doctor: “Yes. I will fill out that form with you.”
Updated Oct 2017. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.