You should continue seeing your doctor even after approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to remain on either program. Keeping up with regular doctor visits benefits you in several ways:
- It helps you stay as healthy as possible, which should be your primary goal whether you are receiving disability or not.
- It allows you to stay current with your medical records, ensuring that there are no major gaps if the SSA decides to review your file—which it will do periodically. And your medical records show your limitations.
- If your case does come up for review, the more thorough records you have from your own doctor, the less likely you will end up at the mercy of an SSA-appointed physician during your review and evaluation.
How Do Regular Doctor Visits Help You Win and Keep Social Security Disability Benefits?
Your doctor plays an important role in helping you win and keep your Social Security disability benefits. During the application process, your doctor provides medical records and other crucial supporting documentation that the SSA uses to make a decision on your claim. After the SSA grants you disability, it relies on your continuing medical records to determine whether you remain eligible for benefits.
The Application Process
During the disability application process, you rely on your doctor for several things. If you meet the criteria for a Blue Book listing, your doctor is the one who provides the medical records, lab test results, and other evidence you need to show the SSA that you satisfy the requirements.
If you do not meet a Blue Book listing, you must demonstrate to the SSA that your condition limits your functional capacity as a Blue Book condition would. You show this by completing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) exam, a process that your doctor oversees.
The RFC exam, appropriately done, offers convincing and objective evidence of the specific limitations put on you by your condition. The test indicates what work-related tasks you can and cannot perform, and the SSA uses this information to approve your claim.
After You Receive Benefits
Once the SSA approves your application and you start receiving disability benefits, you cannot stop seeing your doctor. Laying aside health concerns, there are numerous practical reasons why it is a bad idea to forgo doctor visits after being awarded SSDI or SSI. Primary among them is to show the SSA that your disability requires continuing care.
If you suddenly stop seeking medical treatment the day you get approved for benefits, it throws up a huge red flag to the SSA that your condition is not that serious and that maybe it does not justify benefits.
Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
A second reason you should continue to see your doctor to remain on SSDI is that each visit adds to your medical records. These records can be important for keeping your benefits if you get called for a continuing disability review (CDR). A CDR is something the SSA conducts periodically on all disability recipients to make sure they are still eligible for compensation.
It can occur anywhere from once a year to once every five or seven years. The more borderline your case, the more frequently you can expect to be asked to submit to a CDR.
When You Get Called for a CDR
When the SSA informs you that you have been selected for a CDR, you can help your case by having up-to-date medical records. These records should show regular, if not frequent, visits to your doctor for treatment of the condition for which you are receiving benefits.
If you cannot produce these records, or if you can but they show sporadic or infrequent treatment, the SSA may dig deeper to determine why you have not needed to see your doctor.
A lack of recent medical records might prompt the SSA to make you submit to an exam by a doctor of its choosing—an unpredictable scenario, given that you have no idea how sympathetic this doctor will be to your case. You can minimize the chances of this happening by seeing your doctor and keeping your records up to date.
To Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation With a Social Security Disability Lawyer, Call 866-628-8179
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, help disabled Americans win the benefits they deserve. Before you apply for benefits, sit down with us for a free consultation and case evaluation. Let us show you how we can help you. To schedule an appointment today, call our office at 866-628-8179.