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Doctors decry lax Social Security Disability evaluation guidelines

Wisconsin workers who suffer from severe workplace injuries or other disabling medical conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Disability benefits are available as a type of insurance benefit for workers that have paid into the national disability insurance system and are no longer able to work due to a disability. Supplemental Security Income benefits are similar to disability benefits and available to individuals with short or nonexistent work histories.

One of the most important parts of a disability claim is an applicant's medical record. The Social Security Administration often requires extensive documentation of an applicant's medical condition and an experienced disability attorney can help obtain the proper records from an applicant's treating physicians. The SSA also employs examining physicians that can give second opinions of the extent of an applicant's disability. Unfortunately many of these physicians are upset because some Social Security offices have drastically relaxed their procedures for examining physicians.

"The implication there was that you really didn't have to be that careful and study the whole thing," one SSA doctor said.

The problem arises from the pressure that the SSA sometimes exerts on examining physicians to see increasing numbers of patients. The SSA even allows many doctors to present opinions about conditions outside of their practice areas. This is particularly problematic because many doctors have not practiced outside of their area of expertise for decades.

"People who shouldn't be getting disability are getting it, and people who should be getting it aren't getting it," said one surgeon that worked for the SSA for around 10 years.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Doctor Revolt Shakes Disability Program," Damian Paletta, Nov. 21, 2011

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