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Your Patient Wants to File for Disability Here’s How You Can Help

Paperwork with Social Security Disability Claim written, beside a pair of glasses

An excerpt from NeurologyTodayYour Patient Wants to File For Disability: Here’s How You Can Help written by Lola Butcher.

Neurologists play a key role in providing thorough and accurate documentation of the individual’s health status for disability claims, but for many neurologists it can be challenging to address requests from patients who want to apply for disability benefits. Experts identify tips for neurologists to help with the claims. […]

In a letter to the SSA in February, the AAN expressed its concern that the criteria being used to evaluate disability may lead to disproportionate denials for claimants who have migraine and other so-called invisible neurologic disabilities. It cited Dr. Shapiro’s analysis of SSDI claims, published in the journal Headache last year, which shows that

just 0.3 percent of [disability] claims were made for migraine, and only 23 percent of those claimants were allowed benefits based on their initial claim, compared to 46 percent for claimants overall.

[…] If a patient seeks help with a disability claim, Dr. Carrie Dougherty suggests scheduling a dedicated visit to learn about their job responsibilities and how their medical condition affects their ability to do them.

“Make sure you’re detailing everything because the symptoms can be so variable, whether it’s nausea or light sensitivity, pain or word-finding difficulties and communication barriers when they’re having migraine,” she said. “Patients can have aura where they cannot see for periods of time, which can impair their ability to do their jobs.”


The Lawyer’s View

Many individuals hire lawyers to help them with disability claims, and the lawyer may, via the patient, ask his or her neurologist to fill out a questionnaire about the patient’s condition. That information is helpful to support a patient’s claim, but physicians are often hesitant to complete the forms, possibly because they equate it to an affadavit that they might be asked to defend, said David Kapor, chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Committee on Social Security for the past 25 years.

“Nobody’s going to call the doctor up and say, ‘Hey, you filled out this report, and we want to examine you under oath,” said Kapor, a partner in Kapor, Davis & Associates in Cincinnati. “That never happens—never. We’re not asking for medical certainty—just give us your best estimate.”

Continue with the full article here.