How is the Evidence Considered in a Social Security Disability Claim

The Social Security Administration makes its decision on claims based on medical evidence such as lab findings, medical tests, land treatment records. Consequently, it is critical for individuals who are applying or have a pending Social Security Disability benefits case to seek medical treatment and keep receiving it according to your medical provider’s instructions.

Who Can Provide Medical Evidence?

Social Security claimants are responsible for providing medical evidence that confirms they have a diagnosed condition supported by objective evidence. Additionally, the symptoms of that impairment(s) must be severe enough to prevent them from working at any job or employment position in the national economy.

Social Security will consider all evidence from what are considered “acceptable medical sources.” This may include:

  • Licensed physicians
  • Licensed optometrists Certified or licensed psychologists
  • School psychologists
  • Licensed podiatrists for foot issues
  • Licensed or certified speech-language pathologists
  • Licensed physician assistants
  • Licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
  • Licensed audiologists

Under the Social Security Administration’s criteria, only one of these medical providers can establish a medical diagnosis.

Opinions of non-accepted medical sources, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, or psychological counselors, can still be helpful. These practitioners should give evidence to establish symptoms and the efforts made to reduce them. Non-medical sources, such as educational personnel, caregivers, past employers, or friends, can also help show the consistency of the claimant’s symptoms and how the claimant is affected by them.

How Does the Social Security Administration Use Medical Opinions?

A medical opinion is a critical element to determine if individuals can work with their injuries or impairments. A medical opinion is, essentially, a statement from an accepted source regarding what claimants are still able to do considering the effects of their impairment(s).

This could include a statement of opinion about a claimant’s ability to perform the physical demands of work. These may consist of being able to stand, lift, sit, walk, bend, or use their hands. Or, it may refer to the ability to meet the mental demands of work, such as remembering, understanding, concentrating, or interacting with others. Furthermore, such a statement may refer to the claimant’s ability to carry out other work demands, such as hearing, seeing, and adapting to environmental conditions such as exposure to fumes, hazards, or temperature extremes.

When the Social Security Administration is considering a medical opinion, it will examine how well the opinion is supported by that medical source’s notes, documentation, and objective findings. They will also review how consistent that opinion is with the other evidence in the case. If a medical opinion is deemed equally well-supported and consistent, the Social Security Administration will then consider any additional factors concerning the claimant’s relationship with the medical provider. Here, they assess contributing factors, such as:

  • The length of the provider-claimant treatment relationship
  • The frequency of exams and follow-ups
  • The purpose of the provider-claimant treatment relationship
  • The extent of the treatment relationship
  • The medical providers’ specialties
  • The providers’ knowledge of the Social Security Disability program and their familiarity with other evidence in the record

Remember, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence and medical opinions required to produce the most favorable results in your Social Security Disability benefits claim.