When Social Security receives your initial disability claim, it sends the claim to Disability Determination Services (DDS) for review. DDS examines your medical records and the other evidence in your claim file, and establishes your residual functional capacity (RFC).
The problem with this approach is that DDS does not obtain your doctor's opinion about your functional limitations. Rather, DDS reviews your medical records and makes its own determination.
Unfortunately, a doctor's treatment notes are created to manage a patient's medical care, and are not intended to establish the functional limitations that Social Security uses to evaluate that patient's ability to work. It is often difficult to discern a claimant's limitations from the medical records alone. Therefore, the method used by DDS to evaluate disability frequently results in a denial of the initial claim.
To remedy this situation, obtain your doctor's opinion regarding your physical and/or mental limitations, and how those limitations affect your ability to work. Social Security is not concerned with whether or not your doctor believes you are disabled; that is an issue reserved to the Commissioner. What is important is your doctor's opinion regarding your work-related functional limitations. And that doctor's opinion is missing from almost every Social Security claim file when it first arrives in my law office.
A medical source statement from your doctor setting forth your limitations due to your impairments is often the most powerful evidence in support of your disability claim. Obtaining these opinions is one of my most important tasks as a Social Security disability lawyer.