Approval for disability benefits hinges on having appropriate medical evidence to support your claim. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict standards for what constitutes disability. In some cases, proving eligibility can be relatively simple, and is achieved by simply providing the SSA access to medical records.
In other cases, an applicant’s doctor(s) must provide detailed statements that help substantiate their eligibility. Having a doctor and often a disability advocate or attorney, squarely on your side is therefore important, especially since you have so much riding on your approval for benefits.
The SSA’s Blue Book
The SSA has dozens of disability listings in its Blue Book, which is a manual against which applications are compared. If you meet a disability listing or match one closely, getting medically approved for benefits is relatively simple. If you don’t meet or match a listing, you can still receive a disability approval, but you will have to go through additional reviews, including at least a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation, and possibly an appeal hearing, after initially being denied.
The Importance of Medical Evidence
Every disability listing in the Blue Book has specific medical evidence requirements. Some of this information may appear in the listing itself but other details usually appear in the introductory paragraphs of the Blue Book Section. For example, with any application filed on the basis of a respiratory disorder, the SSA requires certain records, including a detailed medical history, physical exam notes, imagine scans, and pulmonary function test results, among others.
Physician Reports in a Disability Claim
Medical evidence is central to getting a disability approval, whether you meet a Blue Book listing or must go through an RFC review. A larger body of medical evidence can help prove your eligibility, especially if you don’t meet or match a disability listing.
Your medical records may contain information from multiple physicians and maybe even multiple specialists. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will consider any evidence present in your files. While the opinions of all medical practitioners count, some opinions carry greater weight. For instance, in a disability claim that involves cancer, the opinion of an oncologist will be more substantial than a statement from a general practitioner or family doctor.
Getting Help with Your Application
Disability approval can be difficult to achieve in some cases, and it can be hard to get through the entire process on your own. A disability advocate or attorney can help by explaining the SSA’s procedures, assisting with the application, and even in collecting evidence. When necessary, an attorney can field calls or other communications from the SSA and can intervene on your behalf if any of your healthcare providers fails to share medical evidence in a timely manner. If additional reviews or an appeal hearing is necessary, your legal counsel will represent your interests during these processes as well and can even help you prepare for testifying at the appeal.
If you apply for benefits online, the SSA will have all it needs for considering you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This same information will provide the basis for a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim too, though the SSA will follow up with you to finalize your SSI application via a personal interview.