If you have an illness that you think should qualify you for Social Security benefits there’s one thing you and every other claimant must do regardless of your disability – provide sufficient proof that you actually are disabled. The Social Security Administration defines disability as “the inability to engage in any ‘substantial gainful activity’ (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, the claimant must both prove both that he has a disability and that it is severe enough to qualify for federal benefits.
First and most important, the claimant must provide documentation from “acceptable medical sources” of his condition. Licensed physicians are prime examples of acceptable medical sources and are capable of establishing all disabilities. Other medical professionals are permitted to act as acceptable sources but only in limited situations specific to their areas of expertise. For instance, a psychologist is competent to provide evidence for mental disabilities and a podiatrist is competent to provide evidence for foot issues, but not the other way around. Medical professionals who are “treating sources” i.e. professionals who’ve tended to the claimant over a long period of time, are deemed the most important sources of information.
Once the claimant has chosen an appropriate medical source to assist in making a disability claim, that medical professional must then hand over reports to the SSA. Such reports include medical histories, lab tests, and reports describing the claimant’s ability to perform “work-related” tasks.
Sometimes, the claimant is not able to get all the information he needs from his own doctors or medical sources that are available to him. The claimant is then permitted to schedule a Consultative Examination with either his usual treating source or another medical professional to obtain the specific medical information needed by the SSA. A complete Consultative Examination Report would include the following information:
• the claimant’s major complaint;
• a detailed description, within the area of specialty of the examination, of the history of the major complaint;
• a description, and disposition, of pertinent “positive” and “negative” detailed findings based on the history, examination, and laboratory tests related to the major complaint, and any other abnormalities or lack thereof reported or found during examination or laboratory testing;
• results of lab and other tests (for example, X-rays);
• the diagnosis and prognosis for the claimant’s impairment;
• a statement about what the claimant can still do despite his or her impairment; and
• the consultant’s consideration, and some explanation or comment on, the claimant’s major complaint and any other abnormalities found during the history and examination or reported from the laboratory tests.
If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.