Evaluating a Social Security disability claim includes a battery of medical tests to determine the applicant’s eligibility for benefits. People might wonder if they should undergo a functional capacity evaluation as part of the tests for a St. Louis Social Security disability attorney. Our professionals do not recommend these tests since the Social Security Administration does not ask for them either.
The main reason for this is because the test does not answer basic questions about the claimant’s ability to work including working a sedentary job for 40 hours a week. While the tests usually eliminate the possibility of more challenging work, they sometimes assume that a person can perform a sedentary job. However, the agency understands that the only truly valid way to test work capabilities is to conduct a work simulation test. Since the costs of testing are so prohibitive, these tests are never conducted.
Evaluating the Doctor’s Opinion
The SSA will allow nearly any doctor to submit an opinion on the claimant’s capabilities. In other words, they do not need a special area of expertise or focus in order to assess the patient. Even so, the agency will weigh a person’s treating physician’s opinion more heavily than they will a specialist’s assessment, especially if the treating physician has regular and on-going contact with the patient.
The SSA realizes that a specialist probably does not have a working relationship with the patient and will likely view the specialist’s opinion with skepticism, especially if the doctor has only seen the patient once.
Reviewing Objective Medical Findings
When a claimant does not meet the criteria for his or her disability to be classified in the Listing of Impairments, the physician’s role becomes even more important. The SSA has put a separate list of medical findings in place to assist the doctor in rendering a decision.
For example, joint function cannot be seen on an x-ray. A second example is lumbar range of motion, which does not correlate with impairment. Specific cases have gone before the SSA, set precedence and been upheld by the agency regarding the validity of SSD claims.
Submitting an Opinion on Work-related Activities
Doctors should have a candid conversation with their patient about his or her limitations regarding work. Physicians should then use their professional experience to properly assess the client based on what the patient says, their own tests, the doctor’s professional knowledge and other relevant factors.
They should not simply rubber-stamp an approval on a disability claim as they need to make a credible and documented diagnosis regarding the patient.
If the patient lists symptoms that seem unrealistic, physicians should further clarify those claims. While claimants are usually clear about the struggles and limitations they face, they might over-exaggerate or even make wild assertions about their physical or mental health.
Doctors should then use their professional judgment to review the applicant’s medical situation, physical history, mental health and limitations.
Contact A St. Louis Social Security Disability Attorney
As an applicant, you should be careful to accurately describe your symptoms and limitations to a physician. A doctor has some leeway when reviewing your claim and making a recommendation regarding your case.
If you have questions about medical findings and how they could affect your SSD claim, contact our St. Louis Social Security disability attorney, David Hicks. You can reach our firm at 888-588-0001 for prompt answers to your concerns and professional attention to your case.