There are several common reasons that long-term disability applications get denied. Missing medical records and incomplete forms, for example, are big causes of denials. However, one of the most devastating reasons your disability can be denied is because your doctor doesn’t support your claim.

Do you know what your doctor really thinks of your condition? This isn’t the time to guess, so here are some strategies you can use to nose out the answer:

  1. Read your medical records. You can start with the visit summaries and look through the notes in your doctor’s online portal for a start, but you need to see your complete records (including the doctor’s notes). You can request copies of your complete file from the doctor’s office. They may charge a fee, but it’s worth it to avoid upset and disappointment later.
  2. Gauge your doctor’s reaction to simple requests. If you ask your doctor to fill out a short form or write a letter for your employer regarding your condition and your doctor balks, that’s a sure sign that they’re not actually supportive.
  3. Talk to your doctor directly. This is the No. 1 best way to find out exactly what your doctor thinks. Don’t try to squeeze this discussion into a regular office visit. Instead, make an appointment just to discuss this issue. If you’re nervous, bring your spouse or a good friend along with you.

Most long-term disability policies through an employer are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). As such, you have appeal rights if your claim is denied — but handling an appeal on your own can be a recipe for disaster, no matter what your doctor says about your condition. Find out how experienced legal assistance can help you win long-term disability benefits on appeal.