A letter from your doctor can make a big difference in your case. But you don’t just want any letter. You want a GREAT one. Here’s a few things you can try:
🍭 Talk to Your Doc First – Before you ask for a letter, it’s a great idea to find out if your doctor supports your disability application. Here’s some ideas for How to Have “The Talk”.
🍭 If Your Doc Doesn’t Like Paperwork – Some doctor’s have a policy of “no disability paperwork.” If your doctor has said this to you, do not give up hope! There are many things you can do that may help you still get a good letter: How To Get Your Doctor to Fill Out Paperwork
🍭 Ask More than One Doctor – If you have seen more than one doctor, try asking them all! You never know who will write a great letter. (Hint: It may not be who you are expecting!) Social Security also really likes it when multiple doctors have a similar view point on your functioning, so if you were able to get letters are forms from multiple doctors that can be a great help. If you are looking for a doctor: How to Find a Doctor to Help With Disability Documentation
🍭 Make Sure You Are Seeing the Right Kind of Doctor – Social Security has specific rules about who should sign letters and forms. If your doctor is not an MD, learn more about the acceptable medical source rules.
🍭 Get an RFC Form – Many people ask for an RFC form instead of a letter. Some people try to get both.
Documents That Can Help Your Doctor
Your doctor isn’t going to want to spend 10 hours collecting and combing through every medical record you ever had. And you are not going to want your doctor to write a letter that leaves really important things out! Some of our readers reported that their doctors were grateful and did a better job when they brought one of these things:
🍭 A Medical Test List – A brief list of any important medical tests that showed abnormal results – dates, locations, and outcomes. If your doctor does not already have copies of the test results, then attach these.
🍭 A Sample – Some readers report that their doctors appreciated having a sample letter as a reference. Here are some examples of letters: 21 Sample Doctor Letters for Disability.
🍭 A Medical Overview – Holly did a great job of creating a synopsis of her medical history. Holly’s Fantastic Medical Synopsis for Disability
To put together a medical overview or list of tests, you may find it helpful to collect all your medical records: How to Collect All Your Medical Records. Hint: Your full medical records are different than what you see online.
Your Dream Letter
Many doctors know a lot about treatment, but know very little about Social Security policy and what information needs to be included in a letter. (They don’t teach this stuff in med school!). Your ideal letter will also include these things:
🍭 Basic Medical Information – Information on your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and medical history. Most doctors will include this automatically.
🍭 Information on Functioning – Your doctor’s medical opinion about how long and how well you can to walk, sit, stand, lift, carry, stoop, bend, and other functioning activities. Functioning may also include your ability to focus, concentrate and remember. More examples of functioning can be found on RFC forms
🍭 Objective Medical Evidence – Ideally, your letter will reference one or more abnormal results on a lab test, assessment test by a specialist, or a medical sign your doctor finds while examining you. If you have ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme, Fibromyalgia, or a related condition take a look here: how to get medical evidence.
🍭 The Right Signature – Signed by an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source. For mental health, signed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. If your doc is not an acceptable medical source, you can try getting a co-sign.
🍭 Optional: Using the Blue Book – This is super special, super advanced technique that you do not have to do. But it can work really well, so if you are plucky and want to give it a try, here’s How to Use the Social Security Blue Book
Letters You Do Not Want
You do not want a letter from a doctor who does not support your disability application. Please talk to your doctor first. Once again: How to Have “The Talk”.
If these ladies can do it, you can do it too.
🍭 Daisy Gets a Great Letter .”I had medical records from ten different docs over six years. But it turned out the most important evidence I had was that single letter.”
🍭 Ruby Gets a Great Letter. “When I gave this to my doctor, he thanked me and acknowledged that he would not have had time and would not have written a letter for me if I had not done this first.”
🍭 Jasmine Gets a Great Letter “I discovered that you absolutely never know which doctor is going to be good at writing disability letters.”
🍭 Zinnia Gets a Great Letter – Zinnia and her mom put together a medical summary which made it quick and easy for their doctor to write a great letter.
🍭 Laurel Gets Two Great Letters and Two Great Forms. Laurel was approved in four months without ever needing to appeal or hire a lawyer.
💮 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability
💮 Page Updated: 7/1/19
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