Regardless of your condition, the Social Security Administration will rely primarily on medical evidence from your treating physicians and hospitals to determine the severity of your condition, whether it is expected to last 12 continuous months, and whether you have the physical and mental functional capacity to work.
With this in mind, if you want to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits the first time you apply, you will need to provide information from all of your treating sources that will support your case.
SSA considers information from your treatment sources
When you apply for SSDI benefits you will NOT have to submit your own medical records to the SSA, but you will be expected to provide the names, addresses, and dates of treatment from each medical source who has information about your debilitating conditions. The SSA will also contact all of the hospitals you have visited for treatment.
The SSA has listed treatment providers which they consider acceptable medical sources. According to regulation § 404.1513 Medical and other evidence of your impairment(s), acceptable medical sources can include the following:
(1) Licensed physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors); (2) Licensed or certified psychologists. (3) Licensed optometrists, for purposes of establishing visual disorders only (except, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, licensed optometrists, for the measurement of visual acuity and visual fields only); (4) Licensed podiatrists; and (5) Qualified speech-language pathologists, for purposes of establishing speech or language impairments only.
What medical evidence should I submit to the SSA?
Medical evidence which will be reviewed by the SSA will include documents concerning your diagnosis, prognosis, clinical exams, laboratory findings (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans), and prescribed treatment.
Medical evidence from your doctors, including a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC), can be especially helpful for your case. RFC forms provide information about your condition and a detailed analysis about the physical and mental limitations caused by your condition(s).
For example, if you have a mental condition the doctor can provide medical evidence about your ability to follow directions, respond to co-workers and supervisors, maintain the needed pace to complete tasks, and concentrate for extended periods of time. Physical assessments can provide medical evidence about your ability to stand, walk, lift, carry, hear, speak, and manipulate objects.
Submitting an RFC statement from your treating doctor can be critical to your case because it can provide medical evidence about specific work limitations. Mental and physical limitations can evidence about the type of jobs you can and cannot work within the national economy.
What if I have not seen a doctor?
If you do not have any medical evidence to support your SSDI case the SSA will probably request that you attend a consultative examination. If this request is made, you have the right to request that your regular doctor perform this exam. If your doctor refuses, you may have to see the doctor selected by the Social Security Administration.
Unfortunately, consultative examinations are often simply cursory examinations which generally do not help a claimant win their SSDI case.
If you want to win SSDI benefits you need to receive frequent medical care and have sufficient medical evidence from your treating physicians that you cannot work.