Lately I have been using an internet search optimization product called SemRush. One of the tools it provides gives data on how frequently certain keywords are searched on the internet. I was amazed to see that, according to SemRush, the phrase “disability doctor near me” was searched 1300 times a month in the United States: more than “disability for lupus” or “disability for lupus”, for example.
Clearly, there is a belief out there that there is such a thing as a “disability doctor”. This notion of a doctor who specializes in disability does fit with my experience as a social security disability lawyer. I often get phone calls asking if I know of a good “disability doctor”.
But in truth seeking a “disability doctor” is like looking for a “veterinarian for unicorns”: they don’t exist.
It’s fairly easy to understand what people are seeking when they search for a “disability doctor near me”. They are looking for a doctor that will “certify” that they are disabled and are entitled to social security disability benefits.
There is a type of doctor that specializes in a person’s functional abilities: a “physiatrist“. But if you hire a physiatrist to certify your entitlement to social security disability benefits, you are likely to be disappointed.
You see, the whole idea of a “disability doctor” goes again what motivates most physicians: they want to help people get better. The idea of of a one time visit to slap a “disabled” sticker on a person is an anathema to nearly all doctors.
Your Treatment Doctor’s Opinion is what Counts in Social Security Disability
Even if you could locate a “disability doctor” to sign forms that state you are disabled, this opinion is unlikely to be persuasive to the social security administration. Social security is interested in the opinion of your treating doctor, not that of a one-time hired gun. See my detailed post about how to enlist the support of your treatment doctor.
But don’t waste your time looking for a “disability doctor”.