How to Get Medical Evidence for Social Security Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of disability they use when reviewing every benefits application. To get Social Security disability benefits, you’ll need to gather strong medical evidence that supports your claim. This documentation from your doctor or specialist must prove your mental or physical condition keeps you from working for one full year.

Aside from the application itself, you’ll need thorough medical evidence for Social Security disability benefits approval. These documents help prove your condition is real and that you’re truly too disabled to support yourself working full-time. For illnesses on the SSA Compassionate Allowances List (CAL), it’s easier to get your disability claim approved. That’s because the SSA has a specific set of criteria you must meet for each CAL condition. If your ailment isn’t listed, you must prove it’s similar enough to one that meets the SSA’s definition of a disability to get your claim approved.

Medical Evidence Is Necessary to Prove Your Case

According to the SSA, “medical evidence is the cornerstone of the disability determination.” For this reason, it’s crucial for you to collect as much solid medical evidence for your claim as possible. You must provide sufficient medical evidence to prove you cannot work for at least 12 months. That said, if you give the agency permission, the SSA will petition your doctors directly for copies of your medical records. Be aware that if you choose this option, your claims review process may take much longer than if you provided those documents yourself.

What Healthcare Providers Give You the Best Possible Medical Evidence for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Medical evidence must come from acceptable medical sources, as defined by the SSA. This list includes the following fully licensed medical professionals:

  • Certified psychologists, including school psychologists
  • Physicians (either medical or osteopathic)
  • Podiatrists
  • Optometrists
  • Qualified speech-language pathologists

Here are some examples of acceptable, useful documents to submit with your claim as medical evidence for Social Security disability benefits:

1. Accurate, Thorough Medical Records

These records provide a correct description of your disability that meet the standards for acceptable medical sources. For example, while a chiropractor can submit a description of your slipped disc, it’s not considered “acceptable” because chiropractors are not medical doctors.

2. Timely Medical Evidence Is Important

You want to submit records that are both recent and relevant to your disability claim. If your ailment changes frequently, submit the most up-to-date information possible. In fact, the SSA prefers medical records covering your last six months of treatment. Anything more than that you should keep for now just in case you have to appeal.

3. Sufficient Evidence That Comes From Acceptable Medical Sources

In addition, make sure your records contain enough information from acceptable medical sources. Double-check everything to ensure you’re providing accurate data. This is one major source your claims examiner uses to either approve or deny your disability application. To ensure yours is sufficient, you should submit your medical history, lab results, clinical findings, diagnoses, prior treatments and a statement from your treating physician.

Because this is such a tricky issue, you’re better off having a lawyer request the right medical evidence from your doctors. Why? Because you’re 3x more likely to get disability if a Social Security attorney files your application. All disability lawyers work on contingency. This means you’ll pay $0 for legal assistance if you don’t get benefits. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.