Coordination with your Health Care Team

Obviously, when you claim eligibility for benefits, the source of those benefits is not going to take your word for it. They will demand documentation of your eligibility. And your health care team will be a critical source of that documentation.

  • Just as open and ongoing communication with your health care team is an important part in receiving optimal care, it can be a crucial part of getting the benefits you deserve.
  • The last thing you want is medical support that is at odds with your legal position.

The preferred scenario would include the following elements:

  • you know you (the self assessment),
  • your health care team knows you (you can share your self assessment!),
  • together with your health care team, you make informed decisions about when to apply for various benefits,
  • you give your health care team ample notice about what you are filing for and when, along with an indication of what their role in the process is likely to be, and
  • your health care team timely provides all requested documentation (medical records, forms, etc.), completed in a way that focuses on the criteria of the application in question, especially the definition of “disability” that is relevant to the your objective.

The idea is not that you are putting words in your doctor’s mouth; s/he needs to report their clinical findings professionally and in his/her own words. However, it is perfectly fair to ask your doctor to use language, if possible, that will speak to the ears of those charged with deciding whether to approve your application.

  • A doctor who simply fills out an application simply saying “This is my patient and, in my opinion, s/he is disabled,” may not be doing his/her patient any favors.
  • Usually much more helpful would be language explaining the basis for that opinion, as it relates to the standard that must be met to obtain the benefit being sought.
  • For example, someone seeking a job accommodation would not be well served by a medical opinion that the person is disabled and cannot work. And someone seeking Social Security benefits would typically be better served by a medical opinion that supports that the applicant satisfies the SSA listing for Parkinson’s or otherwise is eligible, e.g., because the person cannot work due to limitation of activities of daily living, which can be reflected in the opinion.

 

Content for this section provided by Mark Rubin, J.D.

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