Medical evidence is the primary source of information that a judge will use to help him or her decide if you are disabled. As a result, having your doctor give a written statement or explanation regarding your medical condition can be extremely helpful to your case. In fact, the Social Security Administration considers feedback from a treating doctor one of the most influential pieces of evidence when determining the legitimacy of a case. Social Security calls this written statement an MSS (short for a Medical Source Statement).
Unfortunately, many times a doctor will play judge. By that I mean that doctors make legal conclusion rather than stating a medical opinion. For example, the doctor will simply state that a person is “disabled” or that he or she cannot work. Although it might seem like this kind of statement would be helpful, judges rarely give such statements much consideration. The term "disabled" is a legal term of art that changes depending on the area of law. (i.e. Veteran's disability, long term disability, short term disability, Social Security Disability, etc.)
However, a judge can be persuaded by a good MSS and a good MSS usually occurs if the doctor's opinion focuses on the medical aspects of your case. I usually recommend that your doctor focus on the following points:
- The physician’s area of practice
- How familiar the physician is with your medical condition
- What your medical diagnoses and symptoms are
- How your symptoms limit your ability to perform activities you would do at a workplace, such as sitting, standing, using your hands, and/or concentrating over a two hour block of time. (without requiring excessive breaks or rest periods)
Click here if you would like to see or use an example of an MSS form.
One important note to keep in mind is to make sure your treating doctor actually knows about your medical condition. The best way to ensure your doctor is up to date on your condition is to maintain a healthy doctor patient relationship. You can do this by having regular doctor visits and sharing all your limitations and symptoms.