What Kind of Medical Records Are Best For A Social Security Disability Claim?
For both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, medical evidence is the keystone of a medical determination of disability. Generally, medical evidence is obtained from the medical sources that have treated or evaluated an individual’s impairment(s), either in the present or in the past.
Verification of the existence of a medical and/or mental impairment must be documented by medical sources that are considered to be “acceptable medical sources” by the Social Security Administration.
What medical sources are considered acceptable by Social Security? Acceptable medical sources include licensed psychologists, optometrists, psychiatrists, and physicians (including osteopaths). Obviously, then, Social Security also considers medical evidence from hospitals, health centers, and clinics to be acceptable, or any facility as long as the records are signed off by an individual considered to be an acceptable source of treatment. The acceptability of the source is what makes evidence medical (for example, chiropractic records are not considered medical in nature) and Social Security uses all medical evidence obtained to make their medical determination.
According to Social Security disability guidelines, more weight is given to medical evidence obtained from a disability claimant's treating medical professionals than records obtained from short hospital stays or individual examinations. Treating medical professionals are more likely to give a more complete longitudinal history of the claimant’s impairment (s) along with a perspective to medical evidence with regard to response to treatment, limitations, and prognosis.
In fact, Social Security believes medical reports from treating medical sources if accurate, timely, and sufficient, can expedite the overall processing of medical determinations because (theoretically) they eliminate the need for additional medical evidence.
That being said, if Social Security cannot acquire enough medical information from a disability claimant's treating medical sources, consultative examinations will be scheduled to get the necessary evidence for a medical disability determination.
Consultative examinations are one-time physical and or mental examinations used to make medical determinations. While these examinations give Social Security what they need to make their medical determinations, they are often rather one-sided quick examinations that generally fail to provide a clear picture of the limitations imposed upon an individual by their disabling impairment (s).
Therefore, the best kind of medical records for a Social Security disability claim are those provided by an individual’s own treating medical sources. Consultative examinations are just a necessary component of the Social Security disability process that typically falls into place when current documentation is not available and, thus, are not ordinarily the best basis for documenting a successful disability claim.
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