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What To Do if your Doctor is Not Cooperative

doctor who will not cooperate with disability claimIf you haven’t already noticed, physicians are working harder for less money.  I expect this trend to continue, especially with the government getting more involved in setting prices for services.  In the Social Security disability world, we rely on doctors to provide medical records and to assist attorneys in identifying specific work limitations that limit patients.  These limitations often form the basis of a functional capacity argument for disability.

In other words, if a treating doctor is willing to go on record to say that his patient would likely need unscheduled breaks, or cannot use his left arm for reaching over shoulder level, or needs to extend his legs while sitting, those limitations can be used to argue that certain categories of jobs (or, better – all jobs) would not be possible for this particular claimant.

In my practice, I have created “functional capacity” forms that I either send to doctors or that I give to my clients to bring to their doctors.  A good form that contains numerous limitations can result in a favorable decision, even from a judge who does not approve a high percentage of cases.  As a wise old judge once told me “if you have a compelling functional capacity form, I usually have no choice but to approve that case.”

Now, we have the problem of physicians who do not want to spend the time filling out functional capacity forms.  Those that do may want $100, $200 or more to do so.  Sometimes it makes sense to pay for this service but sometimes it does not.  Perhaps you are not sure that your doctor will support you fully.  Perhaps the medical records from that doctor do not contain observations that offer a lot of support (this is not good, but a problem for another day).  What can you do?

Obviously the best option is to find a doctor who will support you.  My clients are often surprised to learn that some physicians simply do not believe in the concept of “disability.”  I remember engaging one such doctor at a dinner party a few years ago – he insisted that in his 20+ years of practice he had never met anyone who could not work some type of job.  I tried to explain to him that Social Security was considering work functioning over an extended period of time, meaning that a patient might be able to get through a week or two, but over the course of three or four months or longer, that person would not be a reliable worker.  This doctor could not seem to grasp this concept – and any patient of his who was seeking disability either through Social Security or from a private long term disability carrier would be in trouble.

If you cannot change doctors, another option is to seek non-medical evidence.  A good source of such evidence are former co-workers and supervisors.  In many cases, I have submitted affidavits (sworn statements) from former co-workers or supervisors that spoke about my client’s slow pace of work, need to take frequent unscheduled breaks or other limitations.  I get these statements by asking my client to identify potential affidavit witnesses and to call these people to ask for their cooperation.  Next, I call the affidavit witness and talk to that person about my client’s limitations.   From these discussions, I will write up an affidavit which I will email or fax to the former co-worker for changes or corrections.  Assuming that the former co-worker is comfortable with the wording, I have that person sign the statement before a notary and send it back to me for submission.

Now, I don’t think that this type of evidence will overcome a hostile doctor, but it can tip the balance when the treating doctor is generally supportive but will not fill out a form.  It also works when the medical records come from public hospitals or the Veterans Administration hospital, or when medical treatment is limited.

10 thoughts on “What To Do if your Doctor is Not Cooperative”

  1. That is a great idea. Has it been well received by judges? Do you use it in conjunction with an RFC form or in the place of an RFC form? I guess I only ask because I feel like maybe the legitimacy of it could be questioned by some of the stricter judges, but then again I don’t know how they’d be able to refute the signed opinion of an esteemed doctor.

  2. i have a lawyer..but i have papers that need to be filled out ..but my doctor i go to will not fill them out.i have my court hearing july 12th 2011..i dont know to doctor said he dont deal with lawyers…i need

  3. i have a lawyer..i live in dalton ga. i have a court hearing july 12th doctor that i go see will NOTfill out my papers..i dont know what to do. I NEED HELP PLEASE.MY DOCTOR SAID HE DONT DEAL WITH DISABILITY LAWYWERS…THANK U Sheila BUTTRUM

  4. i to also have a have a doctor form a public hospital and am trying to get him to fill out RCF form , when i called and asked the desk ladie she said (the doctors dont fill them out) but i will try and ask him soon. My disability is headach with lowe back strain how can i get my doctor to put my limation in my medical paper work???

  5. My doctor told me I had to be like paralyzed from the waste down to be considered disabled, despite my depression, asthma, hep c, RA and more. He told me I would not be eligible for SSDI. I applied anyway and went to see the SSA doctor and low and behold, they approved me on the first application. No problems. So it is not up to your doctor to decide if you are disabled. They look at your work history and medical tests and records. I also had an attorney right from the start, did not wait to be denied first. I think that showed SSA that I was serious and not alone and would be pushed around by them.
    I am looking forward to my next doctor visit to say “I told you so” to him.

  6. what do you do about a doctor who says to your face that he believes your disabled but in his reports he goes against 8 years of medical evidence supporting a disability and says there is nothing wrong and that its all a big scam to get pain medication..I found this out after my SSI hearing. I won my back pay but from the date of my first appointment with this doctor I was deemed not disabled by the judge. Now Iam affraid my attorey will not appeal because they already made there money and this doctor has pretty much ruined my chances.. I dont know what to do my attorney has been no help at all. I tried to get another attorney but no one would take my case and I know I will not be able to find one if my attoreny desides to bail out..Any suggestions???

  7. Hi I have a Hugh problem. My doctor fired me during an appeal with my LTD appeal. I have one other doctor neurologist that filled forms out, one orthopedic that filled a short version of the forms out (but states he doesn’t want to get involved )and then this primary care doctor that I’ve seen for 4 years and was treating everything from pain to diabetes.

    Facts about the PCP
    The DEA had been on him about over prescribing for a lot of his patients.
    He often made mistakes on prescriptions (per me and other patients)
    He lied to the appeal doctor per the letter they sent me along with the reasons of denial.
    He and his Nurse practitioner told me that he would help me and get me through this appeal even though he did fire me.
    A guy I date still sees this doctor and will allow me to go with him to his appt. if I wish (I don’t know if I should or not to confront him about what he said)

    He stayed I had bad behavior and that I tried to alter or forge a prescription because he had put the wrong date on it. I use to teach pharmacy techs and merely scratched it out and began to write to him on the rx before giving it to his nurse for copying. I tried explaining what and why I did it to no avail.
    My problem is that even if I had did something still doesn’t negate the fact of my various disabilities that had been diagnosed long before he came into the picture.

    Any suggestions?
    I might be able to get my neurologist to keep his recommendation and his physical capacity form but I’m sure it might come up if they haven’t already told him and asked his opinion. should I tell other doctors what happened?

    The orthopedic would not fill out the long PCF he stated that a physical therapist or nurse some one less then him should fill out these forms. He was told what happened I could tell by the letter.

    I’m so distraught.

    1. It seems to me that your PCP is a bit of a wild card – I question whether he will do anything to help you and further communication may jeopardize your case. reports from your neurologist and/or orthopedist would likely carry more weight anyway. If you don’t have a lawyer, I think it would be beneficial to you to get representation as you need someone to put together a strategy and to execute. Let your lawyer decide what, if anything, you discuss with your doctors as background. This may also be a case where you (and your lawyer) need to pay for your doctors’ time in preparing reports. There is nothing unethical about paying for a doctor’s time as long as you do not try to influence what is in the report. Best of luck to you.

  8. I was charged a fee to fill out Disability renewal forms. It has been a month and still have not recieved the forms back. I contacted the Disability office and they have not recieved the forms.
    I’ve called the office several reply back
    Will not answer phones.
    Today I went down to the office. No help they said their computers were down and couldn’t check to see if they were done.2 weeks ago they had not completed them yet. My forms were due back to the Disability office on Feb. 21. Help!what can I do?

    1. Michelle, I assume you are talking about CDR (continuing disability review) forms. Who charged you a fee to fill out these forms?

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