Importance of Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) with SSDI claims
Obtain your medical records
When you apply for Title II disability, you must provide the SSA with a list of your treating physicians so they can obtain your medical records. Here is the first mistake people often make. Don't assume that the SSA will obtain the records from each and every doctor. You should take the steps to secure your own medical records and submit them yourself.
You will generally be asked to see a doctor assigned by the SSA. If the SSA doesnt ask you to see a doctor, they will still have a doctor review the medical records associated with your file. Under either scenario, the SSA doctor will comment on your physical abilities and/or restrictions, i.e. sit, stand, walk, etc. Often, although not always, the SSA doctor renders an opinion that is very different from your own doctor's opinion and you wont know it until its too late. This is the second mistake people make. Make sure to review your entire file prior to a Hearing - know whats in your file.
Get a FCE from your treating doctor
Obtain and submit a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) from your treating doctor(s) so you can have something from your doctor which comments on your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, etc. Your own doctor's opinion is important because, under the law (Treating Physician Rule), the Administrative Judge at a Hearing must given substantial weight to the opinion of your own doctor as opposed to the opinion of the SSA doctor(s). People don't often do this, and its the biggest mistake you can make on a SSDI claim. Your doctor provides you with direct care, has a professional relationship with you that has lasted a period of time, has first hand knowledge of your condition(s) and, as such, is truly in a better position to render an opinion as to your physical ability to perform activities in a work-like setting. You still must meet the strict standards of disability under the law, however, armed with a FCE from your own doctor, it will be a much easier hurdle to overcome.
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