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Ready to talk about disability with your doctor? Read this first

Deciding to file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is already an angst-producing situation, to be sure. But even more nerve-wracking is that first conversation you need to have with your doctor about your decision.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  1. Doctors don’t make the decision that you’re disabled. You do.

Your doctor isn’t likely to ever look at you and say, “You’re disabled. You need to file for Social Security,” so don’t wait on your doctor to tell you that you’re no longer able to work. Doctors realize that every patient is different. Some patients can work through any number of limitations and carve out a niche for themselves in their sector of employment. Others simply cannot.

  1. You need to be able to tell your doctor why you’re unable to work.

Yes, your doctor understands your medical condition and your limitations — but they don’t understand your job. Someone with a back injury, for example, may be able to manage a desk job with some accommodations — while someone working construction cannot. Your doctor will likely want to document how your condition limits your work activity (which ultimately helps your case), so be prepared to explain why you can no longer do your job.

  1. Don’t look for support for your claim until you’ve tried all available treatments.

Doctors tend to view patients who seem too eager to file for disability benefits with suspicion. They’re also generally unsupportive of patients who file for disability before they’ve given medical treatment and symptom management a try. Follow your doctor’s orders and wait until you’ve established a good working relationship with the physician before you approach this subject.

Ultimately, an unsupportive doctor can be a detriment to your claim. If your doctor doesn’t support your right to Social Security Disability benefits when you need them, it may be time to change your care provider.