If you’re waiting for your doctor to tell you that it’s time to file for long-term disability (LTD) benefits, don’t hold your breath. The vast majority of physicians won’t broach the subject with their patients simply because they figure the patient will tell them when they’re no longer able to work.
When you think about it, it makes sense: Although your doctor may have a vague idea of your occupation, the odds are high that they don’t really understand exactly what you do every day – or the toll that it takes on your mind and body. They simply aren’t in a position to understand how your limitations affect your ability to be productive.
So, how do you have “the talk” with your doctor? For a lot of people, this is one of the most angst-filled conversations they’re ever going to have. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Make an appointment specifically for this conversation
You don’t want to try to shoehorn this conversation between three other things you need to discuss at your next visit.
Put your notes together, grab your pain diary or health journal, make sure that you understand what’s needed for your LTD plan, have any paperwork you want to leave with the doctor to fill out ready and just be honest about where you are.
2. Explain to your doctor, clearly, why you can no longer work
Have a few, very concrete examples in mind that can help you explain to your doctor how your disability and your job duties collide. These will probably go into your doctor’s notes (which means they may be seen by your LTD provider later), so be clear.
For example, if your condition requires medication that makes you dizzy and drowsy, you can explain to the doctor that it’s putting your life and the lives of others in danger every time you climb into the cab of the forklift you operate.
3. Directly ask for your doctor’s support
This is important. Your physician’s evaluation can have a significant effect, good or bad, on your LTD claim, so be blunt: Ask your physician if they support your decision. Unless you’ve barely seen this doctor, the odds are very high they do understand the complexities of your condition and will back you.
Long-term disability claims can be frustrating to make, so don’t hesitate to reach out for legal assistance.