Recognizing the pivotal role of medical evidence in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications is fundamental to navigating the intricate process of SSDI claims. Some applicants believe their extensive medical records will speak for themselves, and whilst this may be the case, it is crucial to understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes this information and the potential challenges associated with it in order to establish your best case for approval. This blog focuses on the importance of certain medical evidence, and the SSA’s utilization of that information to decide on each application.

ssdi benefits

The SSA’s Utilization of Medical Evidence

The SSA employs a five-step sequential evaluation process to make disability determinations. Medical evidence plays a critical role in Steps 2 and 3 of this process. At Step 2, the focus is on identifying a medically determinable impairment severe enough to interfere with work-related activities. Step 3 involves a closer examination to determine if the impairment meets or exceeds the criteria outlined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.

It is essential to note that meeting criteria under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments does not guarantee approval, as the criteria are stringent and there are still more criteria to meet. It is also very important to work with a competent attorney who understands the types of certifications and records that will need to be collected for the application process.

Gathering Comprehensive Medical Records

Applicants for SSDI often feel overwhelmed when gathering medical documentation and often do not know where to start, leading them to feel overwhelmed with the volume of the task. This is even more prominent because the applicant is often affected by their disability in other parts of their life. The emphasis in gathering documents should be on extracting details such as the specific diagnosis, date of diagnosis, symptom severity, prognosis, treatments undertaken, current medications, and any physical or mental limitations experienced due to the condition. 

The SSA expects to receive medical evidence from acceptable medical sources, encompassing findings from various tests and assessments. This includes medical imaging, cardiac tests, nerve conduction studies, lab findings, pathology tests, tests of brain activity, and many other tests and assessments which are relevant to the applicant’s disability. Acceptable medical sources range from physicians to audiologists, depending on the type of disability that the applicant has.

The physical and mental limitations experienced by the applicant, and certified in the medical records, are important in establishing Step 4 and 5 of the SSDI evaluation process because the limitations will serve to prove that you are no longer capable of doing the work you previously did, or other work. Your attorney’s role is to liaise with acceptable medical sources and obtain your records, as well as piecing that evidence together to establish that you meet steps 1 to 5 of the SSA evaluation.

Comprehensive Medical Evidence Beyond Objective Findings

While objective medical evidence is crucial, other evidence may be useful in supporting your SSDI application approval. Clinical notes, journals, logs, and medical source statements provide a more comprehensive understanding of the disability, since tests, reports and laboratories usually only prove the existence of the disability, whereas there is also a need to prove ongoing limitations to the applicant. Journals, for example, especially for intermittent symptoms, serve as a valuable tool to track the frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms.

Contact ADA Group Today

In conclusion, the intricate nature of the SSDI application process consists of many steps which require certain documents and information that is presented in a way that supports that an applicant meets all 5 steps in the SSA’s evaluations process. Compiling the documents and presenting the evidence in the correct way is essential to an approval of the SSDI application. Your attorney will be your advocate in this process to ensure that your case meets all the SSA requirements. The team at the ADA Group is known as the most aggressive social security disability firm in Arkansas due to our experience and approach. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 501-254-6955.