1. Choose to see a specialist versus your primary care physician.  One of the key factors that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to look at is whether your treating doctor is a specialist.  If your doctor is a specialist and the Social Security-paid doctor is not a specialist, then your treating specialist’s opinions will usually be given controlling weight.  Some primary care doctors do not refer patients to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, unless the patient asks – Ask for a specialist.  Does a specialist really matter that much?  Here is an example:  Say you have rheumatoid arthritis.  The records show that you went to your primary care physician for treatment instead of a rheumatologist.  We often see judges’ decisions where the judge says if the condition was severe, the primary care physician would have referred the patient to a specialist.  Other times we see judges say that if the condition really was severe, then the claimant would have gone to see a specialist.

2. Go to the doctor as often as possible for treatment of your disabling condition.  The SSA uses the phrase, “Well-supported medical opinion.”  What they really mean is, the more you go to the doctor, and he notes your symptoms, the better.  Assume you have two people with the exact same condition.  The first person goes to the doctor every month for two years for treatment of the condition.  The second person goes to the doctor every six months for two years for treatment of the exact same condition.  In the judge’s view, it looks much better if you are approved for social security disability benefits because you were treated 24 times for this condition, rather than if you had only been treated four times for the exact same condition.

3. Tell your doctor about your symptoms at each doctor visit.  If you fail to do this, the judge may think that the condition is intermittent.  Often, a claimant stops complaining about their chronic symptoms and conditions because they think their doctor already knows about them.  However, the Judge may think the condition and its symptoms are not all that bad if the claimant does not complain too much about them.

                               TO BE CONTINUED…….

By Susan J. Knoll