Man disabled in wheelchairProving your disabling injury or illness is severe enough to qualify for benefits is one of the most important and most challenging things about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies more than 70 percent of initial applications. Oftentimes, these denials are due to a lack of sufficient evidence to support your medical impairment. Providing thorough and timely medical evidence from acceptable medical sources (AMS) can greatly improve your chances for approval, as can working with a knowledgeable and experienced disability attorney when completing your SSDI application. Here’s what you should know about proving the severity of your condition to the SSA and how Keefe Disability Law’s exceptional Boston legal team can help you fight for the SSDI benefits you need and deserve. 

Acceptable Types and Sources of Medical Evidence 

If you’ve seen your doctor, been diagnosed with a disabling condition that prevents work or substantial gainful activity (SGA), and received a doctor’s note that says as much, you may think you have everything you need to prove you qualify for SSDI. However, while a detailed letter from your doctor tying your disability to work-related impairments can help support your SSDI claim, you’ll also need to provide extensive medical documentation. The SSA will consider a wide range of medical evidence, including:

  • Physical exam and treatment notes
  • Diagnostic testing results
  • Bloodwork panels
  • Mental health records
  • X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging results

Understanding Acceptable Medical Sources 

Additionally, the SSA will only consider evidence provided by credible sources. Acceptable medical sources, or AMS, include:

  • Licensed physicians, such as your primary care doctor
  • Licensed or certified psychologists
  • Licensed or certified speech therapists
  • Licensed optometrists
  • Licensed podiatrists
  • Other licensed or certified medical specialists
  • Documents and records from hospitals, health facilities, and professional clinics where you’ve received treatment  

However, the SSA does not review notes or treatment records from chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, or other alternative or new age “medicine” practitioners. 

What the SSA Wants to See in the Medical Evidence You Submit

In addition to objective evidence from acceptable medical sources, the SSA is also looking to see if the information you provided is timely, accurate, thorough, and, if possible, longitudinal. Here’s what that means for your SSDI application. 

  • Timely. The SSA wants to see medical information that reflects your current condition. Generally, this means that the most recent records you submit should be no more than six months old. 
  • Accurate. Records that don’t correctly convey your diagnosis and its limitations help no one. Your records should describe your disability accurately and according to AMS standards. 
  • Thorough. The SSA needs more than a diagnosis; it wants to know the tests used to arrive at the diagnosis, your treatment plan, prognosis, symptoms, and resulting limitations.
  • Longitudinal. When possible, the SSA likes to review longitudinal medical records – months or years' worth of medical records from before you applied for disability. This gives them a better idea of your health – and its decline – over time.

How a Disability Attorney Can Help You Prove You Qualify for SSDI

When you’re dealing with a disabling medical condition, the last thing you should have to do is jump through bureaucratic hoops to get the SSDI benefits you’re counting on to make ends meet. Mistakes or omissions in your application can lead to costly delays and denials – and there’s far too much at stake to go it alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to. At Keefe Disability Law, our compassionate and capable attorneys can help you gather the extensive medical evidence needed to support your claim and make sure your SSDI application is completed correctly. Let us save you time and stress and provide much-needed peace of mind.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation 

Keefe Disability Law has helped countless clients obtain the Social Security disability benefits they deserve. Ready to find out how we can assist you? Complete our online contact form or call us at 508-283-5500 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation. 


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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