How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay
Medical Records for a Disability Hearing can include your doctor's statement
This post concerns the importance of medical evidence at a Social Security Disability hearing.
Medical evidence at a hearing or any other level of the disability system forms the cornerstone of decisions on Social Security Disability and SSI claims that are decided.
Some decisions on cases will rely entirely on the evidence contained in medical records, which can include admission and discharge summaries from hospitals, physician's notes, reports of imaging studies (MRIs, CT scans, xrays) and labwork, but which can also include detailed objective statements from physicians as to a patient's prognosis and functional limitations that result from their various medical conditions, both physical and mental.
It can be invaluable to your disability claim for your physician to provide a statement that gives an opinion as to what you can still do in spite of your disabling condition or conditions. The statement should include a description of your ability to perform work related activity, such as, walking, standing, sitting, carrying, hearing, seeing, speaking, lifting, carrying or handling objects, and traveling.
If you have a mental disability, your mental health provider should include, as well as evidence of any testing you may have had, a statement as to your ability to understand instructions, remember and carry out those instructions, and your ability to appropriately respond to coworkers, supervisors, and work pressures in a work setting.
See: What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?
Can it be hard to get a statement from a doctor?
It can be. Working in claimant representation, I have had physicians tell me on the phone that they simply do not fill out forms or write letters to help their patients who are filing for disability. Why does this happen? My own estimation is that too many doctors simply do not want to be bothered with taking time from their busy schedules.
That said, most doctors will provide a medical source statement. If you have a disability representative or disability lawyer, that individual will attempt to obtain statements on your behalf, usually for use at a hearing.
For more on this topic: A "proper" statement from your doctor can have a dramatic effect on your disability case.
There are two ways to get disability approved
The decisions that are made solely on the medical evidence are known as listing allowances. Probably less than half of all approvals on cases involve situations where a person has a condition in the Social Security listings manual and their medical evidence will them to meet or equal the requirements of the listing; for example, the listing for for coronary artery disease or affective disorders (including depression).
Half, or more than half of all cases are decided on the basis of medical evidence and information concerning a person's work history. These decisions are medical vocational in nature. However, even when vocational factors such as a person's age, education, and job skills are taken into consideration, as well as the types of jobs they have done in the past, the bulk of consideration on a case involves medical records
A disability lawyer or a non attorney advocate (many non-attorneys are former social security employees) will focus, prior to a hearing, on assembling as much medical information as possible on a claimant's behalf. This often includes contacting a claimant's doctors to see if they will provide statements which support a claimant's allegations of disability.
Keep getting treatment to help your case
However, even when an attorney or non-attorney representative is involved, a claimant will still need to be seen somewhere for medical treatment. This is because in order to be awarded benefits, medical evidence must be obtained that establishes A) how far back a disabling condition exists (to establish back pay amount and, in the case of SSD, to determine when medicare coverage begins) and B) whether or not the individual is currently disabled.
The chances of winning disability benefits via an appeal will always be subject to providing the Social Security Administration with sufficient medical record documentation. In other words, medical record updates and detailed statements from one's treating physicians.
Unfortunately, the ability to provide this type of documentation is predicated on the ability to receive continuing medical treatment and many claimants arrive at a point (while they are filing for disability) where they no longer have medical insurance.
What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?
Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved
What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Receiving a Disability Award Letter
Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
Applying for disability in your state
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
The listings, list of disabling impairments
Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials
How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?
How to apply for disability for a child or children
Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application
Filing for disability - when to file
How to apply for disability - where to apply
Qualifications for disability benefits
How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits
Qualifying for Disability - The Process
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
Social Security Disability SSI definitions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
New and featured pages on SSDRC.com
Who can help me file for disability?
Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis in my hands qualify for disability?
Why are you denied the first time you are denied for disability?
Tips for Social Security Disability Psychological and mental testing
Can your benefits be taken away if Your Case Gets Reviewed?
Disability back pay and Children over 18
Is Social Security Disability and SSI temporary or permanent?
How long does it take to get a decision on a disability appeal?
What Should I do if I’m denied at an disability hearing?
Can you get disability for migraines?
Can I get disability for Sciatica?
Medical Records for a Disability Hearing can include your doctor's statement
What type of back problems qualify for disability?
Is bicuspid aortic valve or carpal tunnel considered a disability?
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Permanent Social Security Disability
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
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?
For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.