When you apply for Social Security Disability should you send copies of your xrays?

Over the course of many years, I've had disability claimants send me their xrays. Not the xray reports, mind you, but the actual films. This has happened to me while I worked as a disability examiner and also in the course of disability representation.

Should you ever send your disability representative your xray films? No. Should you ever send the disability examiner who has been assigned to make the decison on your case your xray films? No. Should you take your xray films to the social security office when you go to apply for disability? Once again, the answer is no.

Here's why: xray films by themselves are meaningless if they are not accompanied by an xray interpretation report that has been completed by a physician. Yes, I know it may sound incredible, but the honest truth is that neither a disability examiner nor a claimant's representative (a disability attorney or non attorney disability claim representative) are qualified to read and interpret radiological imaging. All of these individuals rely on the report of findings, also known as the interpretation, of the xray imaging that is issued by a medical doctor.

And while we're on the subject of submitting medical evidence that may or may not be useful, here are a few other things that you may wish to avoid sending, either to an examiner or to your representative:

1. Nurses notes - these are generally useless when it comes to evaluating a Social Security Disability or SSI claim. Typically, the only "medical notes" that hold substantial evaluative value are those that bear the signature of an M.D.

2. Social Worker notes - these types of records can surface in mental disability cases, but, again, these have little value. As with physical impairment cases, the notes of value will be those that originate from care provided by a physician, in this case a psychiatrist (psychiatrists hold M.D.s while psychologists hold Ph.Ds).

3. Chiropractor's records - of absolutely no value to a disability examiner or a disability judge ruling at a hearing. The social security administration simply does not recognize chiropractic medicine and its practitioners as valid medical sources, even if a certain percentage of the population seems to receive a certain amount of benefit from the efforts of chiropractors.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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