What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How Far Back Does Social Security Look At Your Medical Records for an SSDI or SSI Case?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Social Security does not require you to have any past medical history in order for you to file for disability benefits (under SSDI, social security disability insurance or SSI, supplemental security income). However, disability examiners prefer to have past medical treatment records to make their disability decisions. If you have been treated for your disabling condition in the past, your treating physician’s notes (i.e. your personal doctor's notes) often offer a perspective that is not available otherwise.
For instance, hospital treatment notes generally do not include information about your limitations or your response to various treatment methods. Hospital records generally provide useful objective medical evidence (i.e. various imaging results, lab tests, etc.) and acute medical treatment records, but they do not tell the examiner much about the ongoing severity of your disabling condition or how these limitations might prevent you working enough to be self supporting.
The key to winning SSDI or SSI disability benefits from the Social Security Administration is having an impairment that so severely limits your ability to function; that is, it prevents you from doing ordinary daily activities such as work, shopping, household chores, paying bills, driving, etc. Past or old medical records can provide useful information as to how debilitating your medical impairment has been over the course of time.
What does a disability examiner (or an administrative law judge if your case is at the hearing level) look for in your medical records? Disability examiners look for objective medical evidence to support your allegation of a severe physical or mental impairment. Objective evidence might be imaging results (MRI, cat scan, x-ray, etc.), blood work, breathing tests, counseling notes, or any other evidence used to diagnose and treat various disabling impairments.
Disability examiners can only consider medical evidence from acceptable medical sources. Licensed or certified medical professionals such as physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, podiatrists, speech therapists, etc. are considered acceptable medical sources by Social Security. Currently, chiropractors are not considered an acceptable medical source by Social Security. However, disability examiners can use any objective medical testing results (usually, this means xrays) contained in their records for their medical disability decision.
What if you have no current medical records? There is no way for a disability examiner to make a decision on a claim without current medical records. If you have no medical records, or just no current medical records (meaning no older than three months), you will most likely be scheduled for a consultative examination, CE for short.
Social Security pays independent medical professionals to perform these short basic physical or mental consultative exams. These exams are not likely to give a true picture of a person’s limitations and are performed strictly for the purpose of giving the disability examiner some current medical information to make their disability determination.
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Topics and Questions
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials