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Asking a doctor to support your Social Security Disability claim

A lot of people feel very uncomfortable about bringing up the subject of disability with their doctors. They may tell themselves something like, “Surely, if I’m really disabled, my doctor would tell me!”

Well, that’s not actually likely.

No matter how serious a patient’s condition, doctors are reluctant to say, “You should file for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.” They generally do not want to limit a patient’s aspirations or goals. They may also worry that they may cause a patient to become despondent.

In other words, your doctor will most likely wait on you to decide when you are disabled. Until then, he or she will likely support your efforts to continue working despite your condition as long as possible.

If you’ve decided that you can’t continue working because of your condition, here’s how to bring up the subject at your next appointment:

1. Be direct with your doctor

If you’re comfortable enough with your physician to be blunt, just say, “I’ve decided to file for disability benefits because of my condition. I hope I have your support.” That can open any dialogue you may need to have and allow you to make sure your doctor agrees with you.

2. Ask for your doctor’s blessing

If you’re content with your decision but still a little concerned about what your doctor thinks, you can bring the subject up by asking for your doctor’s approval. For example, you could say something like, “Given the tremors in my hands, the weakness in my legs, my nausea and other problems, I no longer feel like I can work. Do you think that’s fair?” That will prompt your doctor to explain exactly what he or she thinks.

3. Ask for your doctor’s opinion

If you’re not at all comfortable with being direct, you can still broach the subject by asking your doctor’s opinion. For example, you could say, “Doctor, my condition is affecting me so badly that I don’t believe I can keep working. Do you feel that I’m disabled?” That can open the door for a productive discussion about the topic.

It’s far better to know whether your doctor is supportive of your SSDI claim from the outset — not after you’ve already been denied.