The Need for Medical Treatment to Obtain Social Security Disability & SSI Benefits

As an Attorney who has been practicing Social Security Disability law in Virginia for over 20 years, I understand the importance of obtaining proper medical treatment, advocacy and detail for claimants hoping to receive their Social Security Disability & SSI benefits.

A claimant for Social Security Disability & SSI benefits must make sure they are seeing their doctor regularly (at least every 3 months). When visiting the doctor it is important to describe, in detail, the medical problems being experienced. A claimant needs to complain to their doctor so he or she will document the complaints in the medical records.

It is vital for a claimant to be treated by a medical specialist for the condition, or conditions, which cause them to be disabled and thus unable to work. For example, if a claimant has arthritis they need to be treated by a Rheumatologist; if they have a brain injury they should be treated by a Neurologist, etc. Diagnosis and treatment by an internist or primary care doctor is not sufficient in most cases to prove disability.

This treating Specialist must then be supportive of their patient’s disability case. The doctor does not need to testify, but must be willing to state their medical opinion in writing regarding their patient’s ability to work. Before starting a case. the claimant should ask his or her doctor if they feel that they have the capacity to do any work. This is especially critical if a claimant has a physical disability and is under age 50, if their doctor(s) believe that they have the capacity to do sedentary work they generally will not be be successful in receiving their Social Security Disability benefits.

Another important issue is whether or not a claimant suffers from a mental illness. A claimant can have the physical capacity to do heavy work, but if they experience significant problems with their ability to maintain attention, concentration, focus, the ability to follow directions, or deal with work-related stress they may not have the capacity to do their past work, or any other work at any physical level.

To be successful in getting benefits for a mental illness, a claimant must be willing to recognize that they have a mental health issue and be willing to obtain the appropriate mental health treatment. As in physical cases, it is essential that the claimant obtain this mental health treatment from a specialist such as a Psychiatrist, and not from an internist or primary care doctor.

Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, has been practicing Social Security Disability Law, Estate Planning, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning in Virginia for more than 20 years. Sheri is the author of Don’t Gamble with Your Social Security Disability Benefits. This book contains what every Virginia resident needs to know to win a Social Security Disability case.

Don’t Gamble with Your Social Security Disability Benefits is available for free download on Sheri’s website:

This Article first appeared in the August 2016 Newsletter of The Washington Group Special Care Planning Team

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