A patient’s medical file is filled with labs, X-rays, MRIs, statements of diagnosis, treatment plans, detailed notes and a dozen other documents, all which support your medical condition and prove that you are disabled. So why does an attorney need a medical source statement to support your Social Security Disability (SSD) application?
Medical Source Statements and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
The existence of a disabling condition is only part of the equation when it comes to getting approved for SSD benefits. Plenty of people with disabilities can work, either in the position they held prior to the disability’s onset (with or without accommodations) or a different one. To qualify for SSD benefits, an applicant must prove that the disability negatively affects your ability to participate in substantial gainful activity. For 2017, the Social Security Administration defines substantial gainful activity as monthly earnings that exceed $1,170 (or $1,950 for applicants who are statutorily blind).
Medical records, despite all the information they contain, do not ordinarily include information regarding an applicant’s functional residual capacity – what they can and cannot do because of their disability. For example, if you worked as an administrative assistant and began to experience tremors and decreased fine motor control following a stroke, MRIs and other diagnostic imaging could help prove that the stroke occurred, medical notes may mention the tremors, and treatment notes from occupational therapists will make note of the decreased fine motor skills.
But while the medical record would prove that you suffered a stroke and the effect it had on you, it does not provide any insight into the stroke’s effect on your ability to work. There is no evidence of the stroke’s impact on your mental focus, nothing about your ability to comprehend instructions and follow through on assigned tasks, and nothing about how your decreased fine motor control affect your typing and filing abilities – all of which SSD application claims have been affected by the stroke, and which make you unable to return to work as an administrative assistant.
What Is Needed In A Medical Source Statement
The medical source statement elicits the information necessary to help support your claim that your disability negatively affects your ability to work. To be effective, the medical source statement should include detailed information regarding:
- Results of clinical exams;
- Prescribed treatments, including dose, frequency and duration, and responses to each treatment, positive or negative;
- Laboratory findings, such as blood work, X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, and;
- Functional capabilities and functional deficits, especially those that relate specifically to the patient’s job functions, including gross and fine motor tasks and communication deficits.
Without information in the file regarding the physical and mental limitations caused by the stroke, the disability examiner and medical consultants hired by the Social Security Administration – neither of whom can be considered impartial – will come to their own conclusions regarding the stroke’s effect on your ability to work, even though they may never have met or examined you.
In addition to supporting your SSD application, completing a medical source statement reduces the chance that your SSD attorney will need to subpoena you should the case proceed to an administrative hearing. Administrative law judges place great weight on medical source statements completed by the your treating physician, so it is important that they be completed as accurately as possible, and with as much information as possible.
Our office has prepared medical source statements specific to more than 100 disabling conditions for your physicial to complete. These forms are designed to elicit the information needed to help the SSA accurately assess your your functional residual capacity and determine your ability to return to your prior work, or perform some other work suitable for your age, skill set and educational background.
At the Good Law Group, we understand what medical forms are necessary to navigate the cumbersome waters of applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Need help with your application process for SSD? Consider our office for your legal representation. Call #(847) 577-4476 or complete this online evaluation form today.