How to Go to the Doctor Without Regret

Art: Robin Mead

If you decided that applying for disability is the right thing for you, or you think you may be applying soon, the conversations you have now with your doctor are very important. Here are some common regrets our readers have reported:

💮 Not Finding Out Your Doctor’s Opinion

You do not want to wait until you are on death’s doorstep and then suddenly find out that your doctor does not support your disability application, or you have a doctor who refuses to fill out disability paperwork (many do). It is better to find this out now, while you still have options: How to Have “The Talk”

💮 Not Admitting How Bad Things Are

Possibly the biggest mistake people say they made is not acknowledging how disabled they were from the very beginning. Not admitting it to the doctor and, more importantly, not admitting it to themselves. It is very hard when you first become ill to adjust to a new way of thinking and talking about yourself. It can really help if you try at every visit to let your doctor know all your limitations and any problems you are having functioning or caring for yourself.

💮  Downplaying Symptoms

Many people say they downplayed their symptoms because they felt shy or embarrassed or they didn’t want to complain. As people with invisible illness, we often get told, “but you don’t look sick” and there is a natural tendency to try to play this part. Unfortunately, this can lead to confusing and inconsistent medical records, which can cause a lot of problems later on. Please try as best you can to be clear and honest about your symptoms with your doctor at each and every visit. How to Stop Hiding From Your Doctor

💮  Overplaying Symptoms

As Mark Twain said: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

💮 Thinking You Know What Your Doctor is Writing

Please do not just read your records online. Do not just read visit summaries handed to you at the doctor’s office. If you do not collect and read all your medical records, you may be in for a big (unhappy) surprise.

💮 Staying with a Doctor Who Does Not Fully Support Your Application

Some doctors do not believe in disability and will not support anyone to apply, no matter how sick that person is. Some doctors are vague and will not tell you if they support your application, but will write things in your records that hurt your case. Many people report that when they stayed with doctors like this, and later had regrets. If this happens to you, read Dandelion’s story for a little hope and inspiration: Dandelion Switches Doctors

💮 Assuming Your Doctor Knows How to Get You Approved

Most doctors know little or nothing about Social Security policies. They don’t teach this in med school. Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. The more you can learn, the more you can help make sure that you get all the right documentation you need.

💮 Assuming Your Doctor Knows How to Write a Disability Letter

Many doctor’s mean well, but write letters that are either overly simple or long and rambly without addressing the information Social Security is looking for. If you would like to help your doctor out, you can show her a sample letter or you can ask her to fill out an RFC form.

💮 Listening to Doctors (or Anyone) Who Says You Will Never Get Approved

Most people who apply are told this at some point. And yet, most people who apply are approved at some point. Do the math.

💮 Thinking Social Security Will Communicate With Your Doctor

In most cases, Social Security will never talk to your doctor. They will never write to your doctor. They may never have contact with your doctor in any way whatsoever.

They will fax your doctor’s office. They send a packet of papers asking for copies of your medical records along with information about your medical condition. At many medical offices, the doctor never sees this request. It goes to the records manager, and that person (sometimes) responds by faxing back your records. If you want more than that, you will usually have to get it yourself.

💮 Thinking Your Lawyer Will Communicate With Your Doctor

Same deal! Someone from your lawyer’s office will fax someone in your doctor’s office and ask for records. They may also fax an RFC form at some point (usually after you have been applying for two years).

That’s it! In the majority of cases, your lawyer will have no direct contact with your doctor.

💮 Thinking Your Lawyer Will Collect and Read Your Doctor’s Records

Some lawyers do not collect all your medical records until two years after you first apply. Some lawyers don’t read all your records until a few months or a few weeks before your hearing.

If there is a problem with your records, this problem can continue to go on for years and you may never know about it. This has happened to many of our readers. Patty’s wanted to share her story to help others: How Patty’s Lawyer Never Told Her What She Needed to Know

No Regrets!

If you really want to know what is going on with your doctor, there is only one way to do it: Talk to your doctor yourself. Read all your medical records yourself.

If you want to know what records your lawyer is and isn’t collecting, there is only one way to find out: Ask your lawyer’s office for copies of everything they have.

It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to start having great doctor visits and it’s never too early to start having great doctor visits. You can start working with your doctor any time, and this can make a great, great difference in helping make sure you get a fair and good decision.

Learn More

💮  The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

💮  How to Have Doctor Visits That Create Accurate Records

💮 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

💮 Page Updated: 7/1/19

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7 thoughts on “How to Go to the Doctor Without Regret”

  1. I’ve been approved for SSDI why is the LTD company still wanting me to complete paperwork on my disability after the SSD ALJ has fully approved my disability and stated I have no skills that will transfer?


  2. Hi! Can you please clarify this part:

    “💮 Thinking You Know What Your Doctor is Writing

    Please never read your records online. Never read visit summaries handed to you at the doctor’s office. If you do not collect and read all your medical records, you may be in for a big (unhappy) surprise.”

    Is the “Never read records online… never read visit summaries” meant to be sarcastic? Do you mean, in addition to those online records and summaries, to also request full medical records?


  3. I’m planning to apply for SSI soon and wanted to know: when would a doctor’s disability letter or RFC form be needed? Should I have that prepared before I begin my application? Is that something I provide after applying?


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