Medical evidence often plays a critical role in determining whether Social Security Disability applicants in Illinois receive benefits. This evidence helps establish the disabling condition, its duration, its likely prognosis and its effects on the victim’s life. Given the decisive influence of medical documentation, it is crucial for SSD applicants to meet the Social Security Administration’s strict standards for acceptable evidence.
The SSA requires an accepted medical source to establish the existence of the condition. The SSA recognizes licensed physicians, optometrists and podiatrists as acceptable sources. Documentation from licensed or certified speech-language pathologists and psychologists, including school counselors, is also permitted.
Diagnoses from other professionals are not given weight. However, objective evidence those professionals produce may be considered during the claim evaluation. For example, an x-ray that a nurse practitioner ordered could be acceptable evidence. Records from hospitals and other care facilities are also permitted as medical evidence of disability.
The SSA prefers medical evidence from sources with a history of treating the applicant. This evidence may provide a better overview of the condition, its response to treatment and its disabling effects. This information can help the SSA complete the evaluation process more quickly. Acceptable medical evidence includes:
- The applicant’s medical history and relevant diagnoses
- The results of clinical examinations and laboratory tests
- The attempted treatments, along with effectiveness and side effects
- A statement summarizing the applicant’s remaining capabilities
A Residual Functional Capacity evaluation is often a valuable form of evidence. A treating physician can use this form to detail the specific physical or mental limitations arising from a disabling condition. This analysis can indicate how well the applicant can perform various work duties, such as sitting, walking, lifting weights, speaking or listening. These findings can offer the SSA insights that other forms of evidence do not.
The SSA requires timely evidence and documentation. People applying for SSD should provide records extending back to the date of disability onset. This can help establish the longevity and progression of the condition. However, a claim may be denied if an applicant’s most recent records are more than six months old. The SSA requires recent medical records to verify whether the condition is still disabling at the time of the claim decision.
Applicants also must provide accurate medical evidence and offer a full view of the condition. Objective evidence, such as medical imaging or laboratory test results, is usually considered the most accurate. Statements and observations provide support but are more easily questioned. Applicants should also try to supply medical evidence that establishes the full scope of the condition. This ensures the SSA has all of the information necessary when making its decision.