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What Do You Need From Your Disability Doctor To File For Benefits?

Last updated: November 19, 2023

You must prove that you can’t work for at least 12 months when filing for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can ease this burden by having your physician write a "medical source statement." As defined by Social Security, a doctor, clinic, or other healthcare practitioner is a medical source.

However, it's important to know exactly what you need from your disability doctor to add to the medical source statement for it to be useful to you while filing for disability claims.

List Your Diagnosed Medical Conditions 

You must be diagnosed with a medical condition by a licensed doctor or psychologist to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Furthermore, to be considered disabled, the impairment must significantly impact your ability to work.

If your medical records aren't too extensive, your doctor can show what health complications you've been diagnosed with by sending a medical source statement to Social Security. Furthermore, the doctor can clarify what symptoms and limits you are experiencing due to your impairments.

State Whether Your Case Meets The Listing

You should consult with your doctor or psychologist to see if your medical issues "equal" or "meet" the requirements of a disability "listing" that applies to your situation. For example, if you have poor hearing, you can qualify for Social Security's "hearing loss" category. The Blue Book contains Social Security's disability listings. For reference, most doctors will require a copy of the specific disability listing.

Any Medication Side Effects 

If you encounter any side effects from your prescribed medications, let your doctor know. If you suffer severe side effects, you may be unable to meet the mental requirements of your job and may have difficulty finishing tasks on time.

Whether You Need to Miss Days At Work 

If you cannot regularly work for a 40-hour workweek, the SSA may determine that you are disabled. As a result, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not exhaustion or pain would lead you to miss any days of work in a typical month and how many days you would miss.

For example, your doctor could check whether you have ongoing flare-ups of pain from your back disability, whether the pain is not adequately controlled by medication, and whether the discomfort is severe enough to keep you from working for at least three days each month.


One thing you must keep in mind is that the SSA is extremely thorough while vetting applications for disability claims. The SSA might reject the doctor's medical opinion if he stated that you could not stand for the majority of the workday but that all of his routine examinations of you were normal. Thus, it's important to ensure that your disability doctor’s medical source statement is based on facts. Otherwise, it could prove detrimental to your case. 

Check out Disability Help’s blog section to find helpful resources, including this article that highlights how to file a VA claim for a disability — something you must know if you're a veteran! 

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Zoey Appleton
Zoey has worked with Cheri for years and has been creating the best articles not only for Disability Help but for our readers. Her job hits close to home for she has a brother with special needs. She hopes to see science and technology pave the way for a better life, with Disability Help to cover it and share it with those that need it.
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