Every long-term disability requires you to prove your claim. Acceptable proof for your long-term disability insurance carrier may include a statement that you prepare to support your claim, a statement from your employer, and a statement from your doctor.
The most compelling evidence in support of your claim typically comes from your physician. Your doctor must provide your diagnosis and list any restrictions or limitations. They must also provide an opinion about whether you can perform your job duties.
But while this process sounds simple, it’s still critical to your long-term disability claim. How well your physician completes the form can determine whether your claim is paid or denied. Mistakes are common. Sometimes that’s because doctors ask their nurses or administrative team to complete these forms.
So, it’s always important to review all claim forms and documentation before submitting it to your insurance company. Here are the important things to gather from your doctor to support your long-term disability claim.
Treatment notes are critically important to disability claims
In the past, doctors scrawled down often illegible and disorganized treatment notes. Today, fortunately, most doctors record notes from patient visits electronically. Sometimes they just complete form fields or answer scripted questions in an electronic medical record. The key is for you to make sure your doctor takes down complete, accurate notes that capture all of your symptoms.
That’s because insurance companies focus heavily on provider notes in the claim review process. Because they are taken at the same time as the patient visit, they’re often more accurate than narratives prepared later as part of the disability claim process. Some insurers also think doctors may exaggerate symptoms on disability forms to support a patient’s request for disability benefits.
To ensure you don’t forget any important details, write down notes ahead of time and bring the list to your appointment. If your doctor doesn’t make a note about your symptom, it might as well not exist.
Test results and clinical findings are objective evidence of your symptoms
A narrative that describes your symptoms subjectively can provide evidence to support your claim. But what’s even better? Objective evidence of your pain and suffering.
The easiest way to provide objective evidence is to offer the results of a medical test or exam. Useful objective evidence of your symptoms includes X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds, CT scans, cognitive testing, functional capacity evaluations, and more.
Clinical findings can also substantiate your claim. Some examples of these findings include your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Your physician can also write down observations about your range of motion, appearance, thought process, trigger points for pain, swelling, and rashes.
An experienced long-term disability lawyer may also prepare a residual functional capacity questionnaire for your doctor to complete. These forms, which are typically a series of multiple-choice or yes/no questions, make it easy for the doctor to quickly record pertinent information about your symptoms.
Physician narrative reports add additional context to disability claims
Disability claim forms ask doctors to describe your condition and its disabling symptoms. The best narratives include all relevant treatment notes and test results. This is the opportunity for your physician to explain what your test results mean relative to your ability to perform your job duties.
How documentation improves your chance of proving your long-term disability claim
If you’re considering whether to apply for long-term disability benefits, you should start gathering paperwork now. The more evidence you have, and the more objective that evidence is, the stronger your chance of establishing a claim that your disability is preventing you from working.
As you work through the disability claim process, the expertise of an experienced long-term disability lawyer can help. This process can be complicated, and there are multiple opportunities to make mistakes that can doom your claim. Reach out to our qualified long-term disability attorneys today for guidance to ensure that you gather the right evidence to support your claim.