A critical part of the medical evidence you need to provide in support of your social security disability claim is your physician’s medical opinion. In order to adequately prepare for your disability hearing, it is important that you obtain supportive statements from the physicians who treated you in the past. To be effective, your physician should write a detailed “medical source statement” explaining in detail the work activities you are unable to do. That is referred to as your functional limitations. As our experienced disability lawyer understands, not every health care provider can provide the type of evidence you need for your social security disability claim.
What are you required to prove to support your disability claim?
You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death. However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision. Your Social Security Disability attorney can help you prepare your claim right the first time.
Applying for Social Security benefits can be a difficult, and somewhat intimidating, process. It usually requires strict adherence to complex rules regarding both eligibility and the application itself. Completing the required forms accurately can be overwhelming, or maybe even confusing. But completing them properly can improve your chances of being approved the first time. The Social Security Administration will make an initial determination based solely on the information you provide in your application. You need a Social Security Disability attorney to help you from the start or you may not be successful.
Who is responsible for making the disability determination?
When your disability application is submitted, your file is turned over to a designated state office that actually reviews your medical records and any other documentation you submit along with it. In Arkansas, this office is called the Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. In Missouri, it is known as Missouri Disability Determination Services. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their residents. However, the process has been standardized throughout the country.
Not every health care provider qualifies to provide an opinion
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it is necessary to have the appropriate medical records in order to establish your disability. You may have several different health care providers that have treated you for your medical condition, but not every one of them will be qualified to provide evidence, according to the Social Security Administration.
Acceptable Medical Sources for disability claims
The Social Security Administration has established and recently updated the list of Acceptable Medical Sources (AMS) for providing evidence in support of disability benefits claims. They include the following:
- Licensed physicians, including both medical and osteopathic doctors
- Licensed or certified psychologists with independent practices
- School psychologists, or other licensed or certified individuals who perform the same function in a school setting,
- Certain licensed optometrists depending on the scope of practice
- Certain licensed podiatrists
- Qualified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) for speech or language impairments only.
Examples of specific requirements for health care providers
There are a few very specific criteria that must be met for certain types of health care providers. For example, speech-language pathologists are qualified under three conditions: they are licensed by the State professional licensing agency, they are fully certified by the State education agency in the State where they practice, or they hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language-Pathology from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
Updated requirements for Acceptable Medical Sources
There are different requirements for certain claims filed on or after March 27, 2017. For example, licensed physician assistants are only acceptable for impairments within the licensed scope of their practice. Licensed audiologists are acceptable for impairments of hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, and balance disorders, but only within the licensed scope of their practice. There are other updates that may affect your claim, so speak to our experienced disability lawyer to get a better understanding of what is required for your particular claim.
What should you do if your health care provider does not qualify?
It is not uncommon for individuals seeking Social Security Disability benefits to be receiving treatment from health care providers who are not on the Acceptable Medical Sources list. If that is the case with you, our disability lawyer recommends first that you continue seeing them and receiving care. However, for the purposes of your disability claim, you need to obtain documentation from an accepted medical professional. Our disability lawyer can help.
If you have questions regarding Acceptable Medical Sources or any other social security disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
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