Make Your Case Stronger! Be Smart About Talking to Your Doctor

By: James M. DuBach

The most important FACTS in your SOCIAL SECURITY case are the ones about your MEDICAL CONDITION. So, if the medical records in your Social Security file show that you have significant medical and/or psychological conditions, then you will have a stronger case. That is a simple fact. You can make your medical records more favorable to your case by remembering some important facts when you talk to your doctor.

  1. Think about what you want to tell your doctor before your appointment so you will be ready to tell her as best you can what has been happening with your condition. Make a list, this will help you remember each of the two or three main things that you want your doctor to know.
  2. Do NOT say things that may sound like an exaggeration. In normal conversation we’ll often say things like, “My back was killin’ me all day,” or we tell the nurse that our pain is an 8 or 9, on a scale of 10. These kinds of statements will sound like exaggerations, and judges or jurors just won’t believe us. We must be careful and realistic in telling about our pain.
  3. Be clear about where your pain is, how often you have that pain, how bad it is, and what you have to do to lessen the pain. For example, “Doctor, the only way that back pain will ease-up is if I lay down for a half an hour after taking my meds, is that OK, should I do that?” Ask your doctor to give you specific advice, in addition to taking your medicine, for things you should do to make your pain more tolerable.
  4. Do not tell your doctor or nurse negative things about yourself or what’s happening in your life that have nothing to do with your condition, for example, “I have no patience anymore, my son and his girlfriend moved in and she’s driving me crazy”. That kind of information will likely be used against you, so be protective of yourself and your private business when speaking to your doctor or nurse.
  5. Perhaps, most importantly, be on your best behavior. Doctors are just people, so try to be pleasant, and forget about the fact that you may have been waiting an hour and a half to be seen. Also, remember to thank the doctor and nurse for their attention to your care. You definitely want them to like you; they’ve got your health in their hands!