Applying for disability benefits is a hard task to do on your own. Throw in the fact that your doctor won’t fill out disability medical report forms, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
So, is there anything you can do? Luckily there is.
In this article, I’ll go through some of the reasons why your doctor may be unsupportive and give you some advice for moving forward. We also discuss what to do if your doctor won’t send medical records to your LTD insurer. These tips can apply to CPP disability benefits, long-term disability benefits, and the disability tax credit.
Four reasons why your doctor won’t fill out forms + solutions
There are actually quite a few reasons doctors won’t help patients by filling out disability forms. The most common ones we’ve seen are:
- Unclear expectations about what they need to do
- Personal opinion or bias against government programs like CPP disability
- A medical opinion that your disability doesn’t meet the necessary criteria
- They don’t have time to complete the form
- Communication problems
Now let’s go over each reason in detail, and I’ll explain what you can do about it.
1. Unclear expectations
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 also concerned about their reputations if Service Canada disagrees with their opinion.
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.
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.
2. Personal Opinion
Some doctors may have a personal bias towards those who apply for and receive the CPP disability benefit. This means that some doctors may not help you because they don’t want to support the federal program actively. 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.
If your doctor doesn’t budge, we recommend asking another one of your healthcare providers to fill out the form. For instance, if you also see a psychologist or nurse practitioner, along with your family doctor, you can ask them to complete it. Another option is to go to an online clinic that fills out disability medical report forms. While this may set off red flags to the insurance company, it is certainly better than nothing. Check out this article for a list of online clinics that fill out these forms: Virtual Clinics That Fill Out Disability Medical Report Forms.
In an extreme case, you may need to look for a new doctor. However, finding a new doctor should be the very last option if nothing else works. This is because Service Canada and insurance companies see switching doctors as a red flag. Additionally, there is a severe doctor shortage in Canada. Currently, over six million Canadians don’t have a family doctor. So, switching doctors should be exercised with extreme caution. Remember, a bad doctor is better than no doctor.
3. Medical Opinion
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 needed 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 don’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.
4. They don’t have time
Many doctors will refuse to fill out forms because they simply don’t have time. Doctors have insane schedules, and the last thing they want to do is fill out a form at the end of a long day. They also may think these forms are going to be lengthy to complete and absorb an immense amount of time.
What you can do
So, 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. Let them know that the form can usually be completed during a regular appointment. And since the doctor is familiar with you and your condition, it shouldn’t take too long. Once they know that, you should book an appointment that is solely dedicated to filling out the form. That way, your doctor won’t have to make time in their busy schedules to complete it.
Another strategy is to bring in two copies of the form: one you completed and a blank one for them. While we never advise people to fill out the form themselves, it can be helpful to show the doctor what you wrote. You can have them look over your version to help them complete their form.
If they still refuse to fill out the form after that, you might be able to get a nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist to fill out these forms if they are more supportive. You can also book an appointment with an online telehealth service. These online doctors sometimes have the authority to complete medical report forms. However, this option should be used as a last resort.
5. Communication issues
Sometimes, people aren’t upfront with their doctor about the seriousness of their disability. They won’t tell their doctor about their struggles until they are at their wit’s end. In these situations, a doctor may be reluctant to fill out forms because they weren’t aware of the severity of the condition or, in some cases, that it even existed in the first place.
That is why it’s extremely important to be clear and honest with your doctor from the get-go. You should be telling them about your symptoms and limitations at every appointment. Even if something may seem insignificant, it could go a long way when the time comes to ask them to fill out these forms.
What you can do
These situations can be tricky because you can’t go back in time to all the appointments where you failed to tell your doctor about your condition. The only thing you can do is tell them everything you left out over the past weeks, months or even years.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to explain what a day in life is like for you. In other words, tell them your pain story. People often leave out information because they think it is quote-on-quote normal, but oftentimes, you’ve become so used to modifying your life as a result of your disability that you don’t even realize how severe your condition is. For instance, you should tell your doctor if you can’t stand for more than 10 minutes without having to lie down on the floor. Or that you are crippled by debilitating migraines almost every morning. Your doctor doesn’t know what your daily life is like, so you need to tell them. Otherwise, they may not understand the severity of your condition.
Applying for disability benefits can be challenging to begin with, so when your doctor won’t fill out medical report forms, it can feel like everyone is working against you. Hopefully, after reading the article, you now have a few strategies to get your doctor on your side.
To summarize, here is our list of tips for dealing with an unsupportive doctor:
- If your doctor is unclear about what is expected of them, reassure them that their opinion on your disability won’t impact their license or practice. And explain that their involvement ends once the medical report form is submitted.
- If your doctor doesn’t believe you meet the disability criteria, bring a printed copy of the program’s definition of disability.
- If your doctor has a personal bias against disability programs, consider getting the form filled out by an online physician. Or ask a nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist to fill out these forms.
- If they feel you’re able to work, try following all their recommendations. And see them regularly throughout the process so you can speak with them about your difficulties and limitations.
- If your doctor doesn’t have time, book an appointment that deals exclusively with filling out the form. Or get a nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist to fill out these forms if they are more supportive. You can also book an appointment with an online doctor.
- If there were communication issues, tell them your pain story.
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