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Ophthalmologists, Orthopedic Surgeons And Other Physicians Who Do Not Support Disability

There are certain medically credentialed physicians that generally refuse to sign disability paperwork certifying patients are unable to work. The top two are Ophthalmologists and Orthopedic Surgeons. These specialities should not be given as “primary” on any disability claim as they are likely to either refuse to sign paperwork, and are unreliable long-term.

Let’s start with the Orthopedic Surgeons who are dedicated to supporting their primary source of income, namely surgical patients. For the most part, Orthopedic Surgeons are VERY supportive for the pre-op consultations, surgery, and post-op management. Therefore, in the beginning, ortho surgeons WILL sign disability paperwork; however, after a normal post-op rehabilitative period surgeons generally “suggest” that you move on to pain management, physical therapy, or family internists.

It is very uncommon for ortho surgeons to continue to follow surgical patients long into the future. It seems as though they don’t really want to “admit” to failures, or spend time on “old” fees, rather than new patient ones. It’s much better for insureds to expect to move on to other treatment providers after the rehab or post-op period ends. Remember, private disability requires continued consultation and treatment, therefore, insureds need to remain in treatment with a qualified physician.

Ophthalmologists are also infamous for not signing disability paperwork. As a group, Ophthalmologists always allege that since vision problems are “subjective”, and self-reported and that they have no way of knowing WHAT their patients are actually seeing, or how it affects their ability to work. This always seemed a bit funny to since since Ophthalmologists are the ones who diagnose vision problems such as floaters, retinal issues, macular degeneration vision blindness etc.

Still, Ophthalmologists are among the groups of qualified physicians who treat vision problems yet refuse to sign disability paperwork. The usual comments are, “How do I know what this patient is actually seeing, or how severe their vision is to preclude working?”

The issue of Ophthalmologists not signing paperwork usually comes up with the application forms. This means patients relying on their doctors to support disability for vision problems are NOT allowed the opportunity to make initial application because their doctors won’t sign the paperwork. The general consensus is, “I don’t feel comfortable signing off that patients can’t work.”

One obstinate Ophthalmologist refused to sign the disability paperwork for a dentist who is experiencing severe vision problems. Visually impaired insureds should always obtain the “buy-in” of their Ophthalmologist before submitting a disability claim.

In the end, I suggested to Ophthalmologist’s Associate that he should transfer all of this dental work to this patient and have her do his next root canal. See how that works for him! Remember, dentists put sharp instruments into peoples’ mouths. It doesn’t make sense that visually impaired persons should be performing dental work with picks and drills.

Another group of physicians who are reluctant to sign disability paperwork are PM&R doctors. (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) The key word here is “rehabilitation” since most of these doctors think EVERYONE can be rehabilitated, and no one should be on disability. Not surprisingly, PM&R doctors are often the primary choice of insurance companies when it comes to IMEs and physical exams, for obvious reasons.

Insureds should also be aware that pain management MDs are reluctant to sign paperwork. Their argument is to say that they do not diagnose disability, but only treat it. In my experience, either pain management MDs are quite good at filling out disability paperwork, or refuse to do it entirely.