Medical Sources That Prove a Disability Case
A disability case is proved mainly with medical evidence. Medical evidence usually is obtained from a treating doctor, psychologist, optometrist, speech pathologist or podiatrist. The social security regulations require that only “acceptable medical sources” can give opinions that establish the existence of a determinable medical impairment. However, other acceptable sources can establish the severity of a person’s disabling condition and how the impairment affects a person’s ability to function.
This means, for example, that a psychiatrist or psychologist can establish the medically determinable impairment of depression. As explained by rule 20 C.F.R. 404.1513, a nurse practitioner or licensed clinical social worker can establish that depression symptoms are so disabling a person cannot work. The nurse practitioner or licensed clinical social worker cannot alone make the initial medical diagnosis. This regulation is explained further in the agency’s own SSR 06-03p. Social security disability is defined by many laws, regulations and agency rulings.
Our disability attorneys often hear a frustrated person say, I cannot understand how I was denied disability, when my neighbor who clearly has nothing wrong with her got benefits just by applying. Disability is proved with medical evidence, which must come from an acceptable medical source. Unless you have looked at the medical records of another person, you cannot know what went into another disability decision. Likewise, if you have no medical evidence to show your disability, you could be so sick you never leave your bed but not be considered disabled under the social security rules.
For instance, if a person suffered from auditory hallucinations that spoke so loudly to him that he could rarely focus on even a simple task like discussing the Tampa weather, that person would logically have a hard time working. However, if that person had no medical proof of his condition, he would not be considered disabled under the social security rules. If he never went to see a doctor but only tried to prove his claim with letters from his relatives and friends, he would not have a good disability claim. If he went to a doctor ten years ago, was diagnosed, worked for five years and then was no longer able to work because the severity of the hallucinations increased, but failed to seek treatment, his case would be hard to prove because of the lack of recent medical documentation of the severity of his condition. Another factor that would affect the case would be whether he complied with medical treatment recommended by the doctor. Did he take prescribed medicine and stay away from prohibited substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol?
Getting medical proof from the right sources is important. Also crucial is following prescribed medical treatment. If a doctor prescribes medication but the claimant refuses to take it and has no valid reason, then disability may be denied. You cannot make yourself sick or sicker by refusing to undergo reasonable medical treatment or by continuing to do things that make your condition worse. This does not mean you will be refused disability if you refuse to go through a risky surgery. It means you must comply with physician reasonable recommendations for treatment. If you have emphysema and you continue to smoke, that creates a problem with a disability claim. A good disability case has medical evidence from acceptable sources and reflects the patient followed the treatment plan.