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What role does my doctor play in my applying for SSDI?

There are circumstances in life when a doctor's note is sufficient to get you into or out of something. If a youngster in school suffers from extreme asthma or allergies, a note from the doctor might be needed to get them special accommodations. If high school athlete suffers a concussion, many states now require clearance from a doctor before he or she can return to the activity.

Your doctor's role is important, too, when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. But the process you have to go through is a whole lot more involved than simply having the doctor sign a document declaring you are disabled. 

No, as a recent question and answer column in the Fayetteville Observer relayed, the SSDI applicant's primary doctor really has a limited role to play. According to a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, the only thing the agency looks for from your primary is a diagnosis of your condition and access to your medical records.

The final decision about whether you qualify for benefits is up to the agency reviewers and is supposed to be in accordance with the strict definition of disability as set out in the Social Security Act. Generally, that means the applicant has to have a mental or physical disability that is expected to last at least a year or end in death and prevents the person from being able to do any work.

You also have to have worked long enough and paid enough in Social Security taxes to have earned coverage. And if your doctor's records aren't deemed adequate, the SSA could well issue a denial of application. You might also be asked to seen another doctor.

If you are a North Carolina resident and thinking about filing for SSDI, you need to be sure you understand what your rights are and what the SSA expects. And if an appeal is required, consulting an attorney is always advised.

The Fayetteville Observer, "Live Wire: Doctors don't determine disability for Social Security," Paige Rentz, Aug. 27, 2014

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