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
To get disability, you have to show the right evidence
As a disability examiner for social security administration, I would occasionally be sent huge packets of information by claimants that were, for lack of a better phrase, not especially useful.
1. What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
2. What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability?
3. How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
This was often an attempt on the part of the claimant to supply additional information in support of their claim, including medical records. Which was admirable because, ideally, a claim will be best served when the adjudicator (a disability examiner or a disability judge, depending on what level the claim is at) is given as much information as possible, particularly medical record documentation.
However, not all documentation that a claimant might consider useful medical evidence...actually is. Here's a short of what is and what is not useful.
1. Admission and Discharge summaries from hospitals. Definitely useful.
2. Nurses notes from a hospital. Not useful at all.
3. Treatment notes from a claimant's doctor, or treating physician. Very useful.
4. Chiropractor records. I know some people swear by the services rendered to them by their chiropractor; however, social security does not consider chiropractors to be medical treatment sources and so their records are not considered medical evidence. If you send in records from your chiropractor, how will they be viewed? They won't be read at all, most likely, unless an xray report is also included.
5. Xray films. Not useful. Why? Because a disability examiner or a Social Security Disability judge is not a medical professional. Neither individual is qualified to interpret a raw film.
6. An xray report with the interpretation of the xray film. Useful.
7. Printouts from your pharmacy. Not useful.
By all means, if you apply for Social Security Disability, send in whatever medical records you have, and always notify social security regarding doctors and hospitals that have provided treatment, and sources of treatment that they may not be aware of. However, keep in mind that not everything printed on paper actually constitutes medical evidence.
How can you distinguish between the two? There are two ways. First of all, for social security administration purposes, medical evidence is that which has at its source a medical doctor (chiropractors and homeopaths are out, and nurse's notes are not useful).
Secondly, useful medical evidence is that which actually says something about a claimant's residual functional capacity, i.e. their remaining ability to work. How this translates on paper is this: records should ideally state A) a claimant's limitations in terms of muscle strength, range of motion, and ability to persist in certain actions such as sitting, walking, etc, and B) should offer a prognosis regarding the claimant's diagnosis and functional capacity.
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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.