Why Your Doctor Will Make or Break Your Case

The question the judges are trying to answer is whether you have the CAPACITY to perform the physical or mental demands of "work."  Only a treating or examining doctor is qualifed to tell the judge that a particular person can or cannot walk 6 hours in an 8 hour day.  A judge cannot just assume that from the medical records. A doctor has to tell him.  If your doctor refuses to tell him - which they do quite frequently - then the judge has no evidence.  I think doctors hate lawyers just on principle. They hate the legal system.  You can't really blame them. Most people who come in contact with the legal system aren't there for a very fun reason. (Being disabled certainly is no fun & dealing with the SSA can be a horrible experience.) Mostly, though, I do not think doctors understand the importance the Social Security Regulations place on their opinions.  They do not understand that the SSA doctors may spend 15 minutes with a patient, if that. The SSA doctors do not review any medical records.  The SSA doctor's opinions are based on a one-time look at the patient.  Basically, if the claimant can walk and get on the exam table without help, the SSA doctor will conclude that the claimant can walk, stand and sit 6 hours of an 8 hour day. It isn't that the SSA doctor is "bad" it is that the SSA doctor has very limited information to work with. A treating doctor has a long relationship with the patient. They typically know all there is to know.  It is the treating doctor who is best in a positiion to say: Sure, he can walk 15 minutes; but he cannot keep walking continuously for 2 hours. That is the evidence you need to PROVE your case. Records alone are not enough.  A doctor saying "my patient cannot work" is not enough.  The doctor must address how long you can sit, stand, walk, push, pull carry and manipulate objects. From that information, a judge can say whether there is any type of work the patient can do.

There are many factors other than how long you can sit, stand, walk, lift and carry that prevent people from being able to work.  "Vocational Experts" testify about these. Some people have to be very close to a bathroom all the time and need unscheduled breaks.  Some people have problems seeing anything smaller than a 50 cent piece, but their vision is other wise Ok to drive etc.  Some people have terrible skin conditions on their hands that make it very painful to use their hands on a regular basis.  Some people are required by their doctor to raise their feet to waist level.  Some need to take rest breaks while laying down.  A vocational expert will tell the judge that no employer will hire someone with any of those issues. Therefore, even if they can stand for two hours, they still are not employable.  Your doctor needs to explain this to the Judge.