Social Security Disability Resource Center

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

Generally, Social Security will look at any 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 individualís 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 individualís 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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    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

    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 answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    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?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria