Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

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SSDRC Disability Blog

The Medical Records That Are Best For A Social Security Disability Claim

Social Security prefers that disability claims be supported by medical records from the applicant’s treating physician. In general, the treating physician is in a better position to document the onset date of the impairment, how it can be expected to progress over time (prognosis), as well as any physical or mental limitations it places on the patient’s ability to work.

If you are filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI, you will need medical evidence to back up your claim, and medical records that supply a complete, accurate picture of your medical condition can, in the best case scenario, eliminate the need for a disability examiner to gather any additional medical information before making a decision. In short, if your medical records are in order you should receive a timely response on your claim.

Medical records from hospitals, clinics, etc., are also valid forms of documentation, provided that the individual signing off on any reports from these treatment sources is considered to be “acceptable.” Social Security recognizes the medical opinions of licensed MDs, DOs (osteopaths), psychologists and optometrists. It does not give any weight to the opinions of chiropractors, although a disability examiner may review any x-rays or other medical tests ordered by chiropractors before making a decision.

However, disability examiners tend to pay closer attention to the opinion of long-time treatment sources than those that result from a short hospital stay or visit to the ER. The best medical records to support a disability claim are those from a physician with whom the patient has a longstanding relationship.

In some instances, often due to financial constraints or lack of health insurance altogether, the claimant has not received regular or recent medical treatment for his condition, in which case the disability examiner will order a consultative exam, or CE.

Consultative exams can be physical or psychological, or psychiatric, and are meant only to provide the disability examiner with an overview of the claimant’s current medical condition. These exams are brief, and as there is no relationship between the patient and the physician performing the exam, they seldom provide an examiner with more than the most basic understanding of any limitations an individual has due to his impairment.

If you are filing for disability, be sure to include medical records from any place in which you have received medical treatment for your impairment. Medical records from your treating physician, if you have one, are best, but don’t leave out any medical records from past or present acceptable medical sources. A consultative exam is better than nothing, but it is no substitute for a medical opinion from your doctor that supports your claim for disability.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How Far Back Does Social Security Look At Your Medical Records?
Does Social Security Disability prefer Current Medical Records?
Medical Records That Are Best For Disability Claim
Will SSD or SSI Disability Be Based On Newer Or Older Medical Records?
Medical Evidence for Social Security Disability
Why does it take so long for Social Security to get medical records?
Recent Medical Records for a Social Security Disability or SSI case
Including medical reports with the application for disability
How do medical records and work history determine a disability claim?
What if the disability examiner cannot find all the medical records?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria