Applying for CPP disability benefits is a hard task to do on your own. Throw in the fact that your doctor might not be supportive of you and that’s a recipe for a couple extremely stressful months.
So, is there anything you can do? Today, I’ll go through some of the reasons your doctor may be unsupportive and give you some advice for moving forward. This advice can apply to both CPP disability benefits and long-term disability benefits.
There are actually quite a few reasons why doctors won’t help patients by filling out disability forms. The most common ones we’ve seen are:
- Unclear expectations about what the form is / what needs to be done
- A personal opinion that is biased against government programs like CPP disability
- A medical opinion that your disability doesn’t meet the necessary criteria
Often, doctors don’t understand exactly what is expected of them when filling out the medical report form. They may have never seen one or filled one out and assume the forms will be lengthy and complicated. Some doctors are concerned that their reputations could be reflected in a negative way if Service Canada disagrees with them saying their patients are disabled. They may think these forms are going to be lengthy to complete and absorb an immense amount of time.
What you can do
If your doctor doesn’t fully understand what is expected of them, you should reassure the doctor that their involvement ends once the medical report form is completed and given to Service Canada or the insurer. You should also tell your doctor that their opinion on your disability won’t impact their license or practice in any way.
If your doctor doesn’t want to help because they think the process is too time-consuming, bring a medical report form with you to show them. It can generally be completed during the time a normal appointment would take, as long as the doctor is familiar with your condition.
Sometimes doctors don’t understand the forms, and are too embarrassed to say so. Focus on having them outline your limitations, participation in treatment, current and future treatment and how they feel your condition will progress.
Some doctors may have a personal bias towards those who apply for and receive the CPP disability benefit. This basically means that some doctors may not help you because they don’t want to actively support the federal program. The physician may be reluctant to label you as “disabled” knowing that this may result in an approval of benefits.
What you can do
This one gets a bit tougher. It can be very hard to convince your doctor to support you if their problem is not with you, but with the program as a whole. Have an honest discussion with your doctor about how you’re feeling and that you are willing to do anything they believe may help. Don’t come on too strong as you don’t want to push them away.
In an extreme case, you may need to look for a new doctor. Finding a new doctor should be the very last option if nothing else works as switching doctors can be seen as a red flag by Service Canada and insurance companies.
A common problem is that the doctor doesn’t think you meet the disability criteria in their professional medical opinion. They might have a mistaken belief about “how disabled” a person must be to qualify for disability benefits, thinking that the level of severity to get approved is much higher than it actually is. Doctors are sometimes quick to say that you’re able to do some type of work without taking other potential barriers into account — things like age, experience, and general employability. Unfortunately, sometimes if you try to enlighten or convince them of how your disability is impacting your ability to work, they will begin to feel defensive and become even more unlikely to agree with you.
Another reason they might be hesitant to fill out the form is if you have refused to follow their treatment plans.
What you can do
It may be difficult to convince them in this scenario. If they won’t fill out the medical report form because they don’t think you meet the disability criteria, it may be helpful to bring a printed copy of Service Canada’s definition of disability or the definition from your insurer and share it with your doctor. If they feel you’re able to work, try every recommendation they have for you and see them regularly throughout the process so you can speak with them about your difficulties and limitations.
Don’t get stuck on trying to get your doctor to say “My patient suffers from a severe and prolonged disability;” this will not get you automatically approved. Instead, they need to outline your limitations, your participation and compliance with treatment, current and future treatment plans, and how they think your condition will progress.
In summary, it can be very hard to apply if you’re dealing with an unsupportive doctor. If none of the above works for you, unfortunately you may need to switch to another doctor — but, as I’ve said, this should be a last resort. Alternatively, you might be able to get a nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist to fill out these forms if they are more supportive.