We’ve talked before about how getting your doctor’s support for your disability claim will make a big difference if and when you apply for your benefits. Now, let’s address how to have that all-important conversation.
Roughly Many people admit that they have lied to their doctor about big and small things, largely because they’re afraid of being lectured and judged. When it comes to talking about disabilities, they may be afraid of being labeled “demanding,” “weak,” or even “faking.”
If you’re contemplating a possible future disability claim and not sure how to bring up the subject of disability benefits with your physician, here are a few things you need to know:
The process must begin with you as the patient who is experiencing physical or mental restrictions and limitations as a result of a medical condition or injury. You know what you can and cannot do because of your condition, but your doctor may not. Although it is important for a doctor to tell a patient when to stop working, you should not wait for your doctor to say you’re unable to work
, unless and until the doctor understands your condition and why and how it disables you.
Doctors don’t usually tell their patients, “Hey, you’re no longer able to work,” because they know that every person and every situation is different. One patient with a heart condition may find even a purely sedentary desk job impossible, while another could handle their management responsibilities at a manufacturing plant easily with a few accommodations. Some patients will find stress, anxiety or depression debilitating, while others are better able to navigate despite these conditions. With disability claims, there is no one size fits all. Each claim and each patient is unique. In most situations, your doctor will most likely wait for you to say that you’ve reached the limit of your abilities.
Your doctor knows the difference between whining, faking and a real problem
If your doctor is treating you for a medical condition, then they know you aren’t just whining or faking your symptoms. They have an ethical and legal duty not only to provide the care that you need, but also to document when and how your ability to work is compromised. This requires a full and frank discussion of your symptoms (ie, pain, fatigue, etc) and how they restrict your ability to do your work. This information can only come from you. To do this properly, you must think through these questions before discussing them with your doctor. Telling your doctor “I can’t work” without explaining why and how is not likely to be helpful or successful. Remember, you are asking the doctor to certify to your disability in writing. Doctors are not likely to do so unless they understand from the patient precisely how and why they are disabled, and can then document in the medical chart the reasons behind a doctor’s support of a disability claim.
It is strongly recommended that you schedule and pay for a separate appointment for this conversation
Telling your doctor that you want to file for disability and you want their support is nerve-wracking enough. You don’t want to try to sandwich that conversation into the last three minutes of a regular medical appointment. Schedule a consultation to have this talk and take any paperwork you need for the insurance company with you.
You paid your disability policy premiums for a reason, and you have a right to expect benefits when you need them. If your ERISA disability claim has been unfairly denied, it’s time to seek additional guidance.