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

How Far Back Does Social Security Look At Your Medical Records?

Generally, Social Security will look at any medical records that address your current alleged disabling condition. Social Security Disability examiners like to have at a treatment history of twelve months or more to address potential limitations and the severity of an individual’s disabling condition or conditions.

Social Security believes that acceptable treating physicians or medical professionals offer a unique perspective that cannot be gotten from acute medical treatment notes (i.e. hospital notes, urgent care, etc). Most often, treating physicians and other medical professionals offer a diagnosis, treatment methods, and response to prescribed treatment, ongoing limitations, as well as a host of other valuable information that can be used to make a Social Security Disability determination.

Currently, Social Security does not consider chiropractors to be an acceptable medical treatment source. Consequently, disability examiners are only allowed to consider objective testing information (i.e. CT scan, MRI, X-ray, blood work, etc) contained in their records when making their disability decisions.

Although Social Security guidelines stress the importance of medical records obtained from treating medical professionals, there must be current medical treatment information in order to make a disability determination. Social Security considers medical treatment information within the prior ninety days to be current. If an individual has reams of medical information from the past but nothing within the past ninety days, the disability examiner has to get a current status of their disabling condition or conditions.

Consultative examinations performed by paid medical professionals are used to obtain current medical information if a disability examiner is unable to get recent informmation (medical records created within the last 90 days) from treating medical professionals.

Note: If a person has alleged more than once condition and they have no current medical treatment, they may require more than one consultative examination in order to get their disability decision.

From my past experience as a Social Security Disability examiner, it is my opinion that consultative examinations do not lead to many disability cases being approved for disability benefits. There are so many reasons why this statement may be true.

For instance, the medical professional examining you does not have to have an expertise or specialty in a medical field that deals with your disabling condition. Your disabling condition could be severe back problems but your examining consultative examination doctor may specialize in digestive problems.

Social Security has to use medical professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc) who are available in a local geographical area (local to where the claimant lives) to perform their consultative examinations.

Most disability applicants who attend these examinations complain that they are short and that they do not evaluate the severity of their disabling condition/s fairly. Disability applicants should remember these examinations are just to give Social Security Disability examiners something current to use in their disability determination. They are not meant provide an intense evaluation of their medical condition, nor are they meant as any kind of treatment.

For these reasons, very few consultative examinations lead to an approval for disability benefits unless they involve objective testing like memory testing, intelligence quotient (IQ) testing, or vision testing. The results of this kind of testing provide a fairly black and white picture of an individual’s current functional ability.

Consultative examinations can also be useful as a follow up status for disability applicants filing for disability benefits on the basis of a cerebral accident (for example, stroke or traumatic brain injury) or myocardial infarction (heart attack)--although they are rarely needed in these cases due to ongoing medical treatment.

Disability applicants that have medical treatment for their condition, or conditions (both past and current) have a better chance of being approved for disability benefits than disability applicants with no current medical treatment history for their disabling condition or conditions, who are basically depending upon the results of a short and rarely thorough consultative examination performed by a medical professional whom they have never met.

Essential Questions

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?

Related pages:

How Far Back Does Social Security Look At Your Medical Records?
Does Social Security Disability prefer Current Medical Records?
Medical Records That Are Best For Disability Claim
Will SSD or SSI Disability Be Based On Newer Or Older Medical Records?
Medical Evidence for Social Security Disability
Why does it take so long for Social Security to get medical records?
Recent Medical Records for a Social Security Disability or SSI case
Including medical reports with the application for disability
How do medical records and work history determine a disability claim?
What if the disability examiner cannot find all the medical records?
Will I qualify for disability with back pain, a bone spur, and bulging disks?
If you apply for disability in in Colorado
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Colorado

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.