How Critical Is Medical Evidence In Proving Your Disability Claim?

Medical evidence serves as the foundation for every disability case. The disability analyst at the Social Security Administration (SSA) will use your records to determine whether or not you are unable to work because of a severe physical or cognitive impairment. And without accurate, timely, and sufficient medical evidence to support your Social Security disability claim, your chances of obtaining benefits is nearly impossible.

What Medical Records Does SSA Accept?

Depending on a person's interpretation of what qualifies as "medical treatment," it's possible the documentation you submit to SSA will be discarded and not taken into consideration when determining whether or not you are disabled. It's extremely important to understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable medical records:

Medical Records Considered by SSA

  • Licensed physicians, e.g., your primary care doctor
  • Licensed psychologists
  • Licensed optometrists (eyes doctors)
  • Licensed/Certified speech therapists
  • Licensed podiatrists (foot doctors)
  • Documents and records from hospitals, health facilities, and professional clinics

Medical Records NOT considered by SSA

  • Massage therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Acupuncture
  • New age medicine

(It's important to note that even though SSA will not consider the notes and records made by your chiropractor, any x-rays taken at a chiropractor's office can be submitted as evidence, as they are considered objective.)

How Recent Must Medical Records be?

There is no specific expiration date associated with your medical records, however, it's important to remember that the medical records you provide SSA will ultimately be used to support your current physical and/or cognitive impairments. With this in mind, you need to ensure that the records you provide serve as logical evidence.

For instance, it's possible that you may have a condition that is progressive in nature and changing by the month. In this case, you'll want to provide SSA with medical records that are up-to-date and timely, as older records may not provide an accurate assessment of your existing, changing state of health.

Likewise, it's entirely possible that older records will serve to support your claim if your physical and/or cognitive impairment has remained largely unchanged over several months or years. Older records also help to give a much more broad view of your underlying conditions.

To help avoid the hassle of being told the medical records you provided aren't relevant, it's advisable to contact an experienced disability lawyer who can help you obtain records that are timely and best support your disability claim.

Medical Records must provide Evidence

SSA will comb through your medical records to review the findings and test results of acceptable medical sources (such as those listed above) and ensure that they support the claims in your disability application.

Some people assume that a single statement by their doctor stating that they are unable to work will be sufficient for obtaining disability benefits. Unfortunately, while you may be unfit to work, and your doctor believes supports same, SSA will require much more in the way of evidence.

Ideally, the records your doctor keeps should be typed, professional, and exhaustive, meaning they are detailed with regard to all of your complaints. Complete notes should include any and all examinations given by the doctor, the results of the exams, any treatment administered, and future instructions as well as prognosis. Simply put, the more thorough the better. 

Why You Should Contact a Disability Attorney

Our experience has led us to believe that SSA doesn't always do an adequate job with a claimant's medical records, and even rarer that they successfully contact your doctors in attempt to obtain appropriate documents. This is one of many reasons you should consider contacting an experienced team of legal professionals that work on disability cases every day.

Our goal as a full-service Social Security disability firm is to be with you every step of the way, and that includes obtaining acceptable, timely medical evidence that SSA must review and give consideration. 

Our disability attorneys don't require or expect their clients to produce their own medical records. We understand this can be significant cost to our clients, so once we have accepted your case, we will front expenses for ordering medical records and doctors opinions that help to prove your condition(s), and the only way we're reimbursed is if you receive disability benefits. 

Contact us

Keller & Keller's disability attorneys offer a Zero Fee Guarantee, meaning you'll never pay us for a consultation fee and the only way we receive payment for our legal services is if you are approved for disability benefits.

You can speak to a disability attorney live by calling 1-800-253-5537, or you can write to us by using our free contact form.


James R. Keller
Connect with me
Partner at Keller & Keller