Your Social Security disability claim is largely reliant on medical evidence that must support all of the elements of your claim in order to be approved for disability benefits. You must use medical evidence to show that you have a “medically determinable” physical or mental impairment which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or is expected to result in death, and that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Your medical evidence should show that you meet the time and severity requirements.
Medical Evidence Showing Existence of an Impairment
A qualified medical professional must opine that you have an impairment to qualify for disability benefits. The first requirement is showing that you actually have a medical condition. Your doctor can show through verifiable medical tests that your condition is one that is listed on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Adult Listing of Impairments. If your condition is not on the Adult Listing, then it may still qualify you for benefits, but you must show that your condition is at least as severe as a condition on the Listing of Impairments.
Verifiable medical tests that can prove existence of a condition include:
- Radiological tests (MRIs, CAT scans, X-rays)
- Blood screening
- Mental exams performed by licensed psychiatrists or psychologists
Once your medical provider determines that you have a medically determinable impairment, you should continue medical treatment in order to show that your condition meets severity and time requirements.
Medical Evidence Proving Time Requirements
After showing that you have a verifiable medical condition, you may use medical evidence to show that your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or will result in death. Your ongoing medical treatment should show that your condition has endured over time despite medical treatment.
If you apply for Social Security disability benefits after you have already endured your condition for at least 12 months or it has been determined to likely result in death, your medical records should show that you have suffered the condition for at least 12 months and you therefore meet the time requirements. If you have at least 12 months of medical evidence that shows you have a severe medical impairment, your application may be expedited through the disability determination process.
However, if you have recently been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that is preventing you from working, your ongoing medical treatment is even more important for your disability claim. You must show that you were diagnosed and are following medical treatment as recommended. You must show that your condition is ongoing and your doctor expects it to last at least 12 months or result in death. Medical records from a qualified medical professional should include an opinion regarding the expected duration of your condition and your prognosis.
If you do not have consistent medical records, the SSA may question the duration of your condition. Disability examiners may question whether you were able to work during times that you did not receive consistent and continuous medical treatment. On the other hand, if you have regular, consistent medical treatment showing that you were impaired, the SSA is less likely to see a red flag on your application.
Medical Evidence Showing Severity of Your Condition
Consistent medical evidence can also be used to show that your condition meets the severity requirements to receive disability benefits. Your condition must be so severe that it prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. That is, that you cannot work on a sustained, full-time basis.
If you are employed, your medical provider may give you restrictions that describe the severity of your condition. For example, if you have a back injury and are unable to stand and walk for extended periods of time, you may be unable to complete the duties of your job. Your medical provider should provide ongoing restrictions that allow the SSA to see how your condition is progressing over time. If your condition gets worse or fails to positively respond to medical treatment, it is more likely to be seen as severe enough to meet disability requirements.
A Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help You
If you have considered or are filing a Social Security disability claim, you should maintain continuous medical treatment in order to show that you have a condition that meets the time and severity requirements to receive disability benefits. You can do that by seeking the help of a medical provider with experience in Social Security disability claims. If your doctor is not familiar with managing disability claims, an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Roose & Ressler can help you find a provider who will provide you with adequate medical evidence to win your disability claim. We will also help you gather medical evidence to show that you are disabled and deserve to receive benefits. Call us today to find out how we can help you.