Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

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

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Winning disability with the right medical evidence

The most important aspect of any claim for disability benefits with the social security administration is medical evidence. What does medical evidence entail? In a broad sense, any records that have been compiled by any of your medical treatment sources. This includes every doctor you've been seen by, every clinic you've visited, and every hospital you've been treated at. And it potentially includes every type of record that's been created in the course of providing you treatment, including but not limited to: imaging reports (xrays, cat scans, MRIs), labwork (such as for a CBC), admission and discharge summaries, and office treatment notes.

Social security disability and SSI disability cases are adjudicated on the basis of what a claimant's medical records (and this, of course, includes supportive statements submitted by one's doctor, or treating physician) say about their condition. And the information contained in the records do the following:

1. Establish the onset date of a claimant's disability (i.e. when the individual became disabled).

2. Establish a current state of disability, according to the social security administration's disability benefit criteria.

3. Establish an ongoing state of disability per the social security administration definition of disability.

Practically every person who filing and trying to qualify for disability benefits understands the importance of medical records. However, many claimants may be unaware of certain issues regarding medical records and the role they play in the development of a disability case.

1. For cases that are decided at the intial claim (application) and reconsideration levels, where the decision is made by a disability examiner versus an administrative law judge, the primary delay for a decision typically involves the amount of time it take an examiner to receive the necessary medical records. For this reason, an individual who decides to file for disability should strive to provide full and complete information regarding their medical treatment sources on their disability application. A failure to do this can potentially add delays to the processing of their case.

2. Not all records are helpful to a case. And, in this regard, I mean records from sources such as chiropractors. Chiropractic medicine helps alleviate the pain of many thousands of patients. However, chiropractors are not considered medical treatment sources by the social security administration and their records are not used in deciding social security disability and SSI disability cases. Tip: if you have back problems and are receiving treatment only from a chiropractor, you should, for the benefit of your case, consider seeking treatment from an M.D., possibly an orthopedist, and, perhaps, a pain specialist if you have ongoing and debilitating levels of pain.

3. The source of your medical records may point to their relative strength when it comes to helping you win your case. For example, a family doctor who is an M.D. may prescribe anti-depressants for depression or anti-anxiety medications for anxiety. But the records from such a treatment source will simply not carry the same weight as the records from a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist.

4. Many doctors, even those who support a claimant's disability case and who have provided years of treatment for a condition, fail to adequately document a claimant's functional limitations and restrictions which they possess as a result of their medical conditions. Why do they do this? Because, honestly, this type of information is not generally of extreme importance to the physician himself.

However, documentation of a claimant's RFC, or residual functional capacity, is very important for the outcome of a social security disability or SSI disability case. For this reason specifically, it may not be a bad idea to speak with one's physician after the decision has been made to file for disability.

During such a conversation, a claimant/patient may be able to gauge the physician's level of support for the claim (which may indicate whether or not the doctor would be willing to complete a statement in support of the case) and may also be able to indicate to the doctor that it would be to the patient's advantage if the doctor's treatment notes were more detailed in the area of functional limitations.

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

Related pages:

What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?
Social Security Disability Claim Status
How to Claim Disability When you Have a Medical Problem
The Decision on the Social Security Disability Claim or SSI Claim
If my disability claim is denied do I have to file an appeal to win back pay and monthly benefits?
What is the process for approving a Social Security disability claim?
Steps for Filing A Disability Claim Under SSI or SSD
Why do I keep getting denied for disability?
Disability claim at reconsideration appeal level
If approved at a disability hearing, when do you get a letter or check?
How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
How long will it take to get a decision on SSD or SSI after a medical examination?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives