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Which medical treatment sources will Social Security accept for evidence?
In a recent post, I mentioned that chiropractors records are not considered medical evidence. In the eyes of the SSA, not every medical treatment source is “acceptable.” Licensed physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists are acceptable sources, and their medical records can be used to help prove a claim for disability. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, etc., are not acceptable medical sources, and opinions from these individuals will not carry any weight with the examiner.
Social Security prefers that disability claims be supported by medical records from the applicant’s treating physician.
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.
If you are considering filing a claim for disability, your best course of action is to document your symptoms and diagnosis by seeing a licensed physician (or mental health professional, if the basis of your claim is a mental disorder). Try to see a doctor who is a specialist in the field for your particular type of disorder.
For instance, an orthopedic doctor for back or neck pain, or a doctor who specializes in pain management, and a psychiatrist for treatment of severe depression, bipolar, etc. While records from your family doctor will prove useful, they may not be as helpful to your case as an opinion from a medical specialist.
I should also mention another type of treatment professional whose records are not accepted or at least accepted at full face value: Physician assistants a.k.a. nurse practitioners.
A physician assistant works under the supervision of an MD and can prescribe medicine, which a nurse cannot do. And, sometimes, a physician's assistant will work in a remote field office of a medical practice, functioning, practically, as a doctor. Personally, I think I would rather have a modern PA versus an MD from 50 years ago.
Are physician assistant records acceptable? Yes, but only if an MD signs off on them.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Social Security Disability hearing decision time
Applying for disability, medical conditions
How to File for SSI
Permanent disability benefits
How does social security figure out what to pay a disability attorney?
How many people get approved for disability from Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and mental condition diagnosis
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Partial disability benefits
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