For Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) claims, there’s evidence, and then there’s evidence.
Here’s what we mean.
Medical evidence of disability is critical to your chances of winning your SSDI claim. But the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) is particular about what medical evidence it finds convincing.
Medical Evidence Must Be Current.
One of the most important factors to the SSA about your medical evidence, is how old it is.
In making its disability determination, the SSA is looking to see if you are “currently” disabled. That means that while medical evidence showing how long you have been disabled and the progression of your disability/disease/impairment is important and certainly has its place, the SSA wants medical records that establish that you are currently disabled and unable to work full-time or on a consistent basis.
Generally, this means that the SSA is looking for medical records that are no less than 12 months old.
Medical Evidence of Your Abilities, Not Just Your Disabilities.
The other major category of medical evidence that the SSA is looking for is medical evidence that establishes what you can do, not just what you can no longer do.
To reach a disability determination, the SSA needs evidence that shows how your condition(s) interfere with your ability to work full time or on a consistent basis and how your condition(s) prevent you from engaging in normal daily activities.
One form that can be effectively used to get this type of evidence before the SSA is what the SSA calls the “Medical Source Statement.” (This document is also known as a “Statement of Limitations,” a “Medical Opinion,” or a “Statement of Permanent Restrictions.”) There is also a “Residual Functional Capacity” Form that your doctor can fill out.
A Medical Source Statement is a written opinion from your treating doctor that gives his/her medically-informed opinion about your “functional limitations” (i.e., what you can or cannot do). It is detailed and is a very good source of medical information and evidence regarding your condition(s). Because it comes from your treating physician, it can also be persuasive evidence for the SSA.
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) is a test that can take anywhere from 4-6 hours to perform and can cost upwards of $500.00. While good in that it provides objective medical test results of your limitations, an FCE is not as powerful as a Medical Source Statement because it is not conducted by a licensed physician. These tests are generally performed by a physical therapist, not your treating doctor.
Whether you should get a Medical Source Statement or an FCE depends on the specific facts of your case. To find out which is best for you in your case, consult with experienced social security disability counsel.
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When it comes to social security disability cases, there is a lot to know. That’s why we handle only social security disability cases. We have offices in Springfield, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Jefferson and other cities in Missouri, and we have offices in Kansas, Illinois and even in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn, or contact us today to set up your free appointment.