A lot of people delay filing for Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income for one reason — they’re waiting for their doctor to tell them that they’re disabled and need to file for benefits.

That seldom happens. Here’s why.

First, most physicians don’t have a working knowledge of Social Security benefits in the first place. Why would they? Unless you have ever gone through the process of filing for disability benefits or have helped someone file, you don’t really have a reason to know much about the process. Your doctor’s knowledge of the programs may be limited to knowing how to fill out the forms the agency sends when it’s making its determination.

Second, doctors usually wait for patients to bring up the subject of disability. Doctors generally want to see their patients live their best possible lives. For some patients, that means working long after a specific medical condition has started to take its toll, simply because they want to continue as long as possible in their careers.

Does this mean you should file for disability without bothering to talk to your doctor? Absolutely not. You really need his or her support to get through the claims process.

Instead, you need to make an appointment specifically to discuss the issue of disability as soon as you know you’re ready to file. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Remember that your doctor knows you.

If you have a long-standing or severe condition, your doctor knows your suffering is real. You have no reason to be nervous about this conversation.

2. Ask your doctor’s opinion.

Say something like, “I’m having a hard time working because of my condition. Would you agree with my decision if I file for disability benefits?”

If your doctor agrees with your decision — great! You can go from there. If not, that’s still not awful. It’s better to know before you file than find out after your claim is denied. Knowing means that you have the opportunity to decide if you want to keep working or start looking for a doctor that’s more supportive of your decision.

Once you have your doctor’s support, an attorney who handles Social Security Disability cases can help you obtain the information you need in order to make an effective claim for benefits.