No longer able to engage in substantial gainful activity due to one or more disabling medical conditions? While you may qualify for monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, the application process is notoriously difficult. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies nearly 70 percent of disability claims in the initial stage of its five-step evaluation process. These denials are often the result of errors in the application paperwork – such as leaving some questions blank – or failing to provide sufficient evidence from acceptable medical sources (AMS).
Objective evidence from acceptable medical sources is essential to proving the existence of your medically determinable impairment (MDI) to the disability examiner evaluating your SSDI claim. This is one of the key criteria for obtaining benefits. Here's what you need to know about qualifying for Social Security disability, what constitutes an AMS, and how Keefe Disability Law's exceptional Boston attorneys can help you gather the medical evidence you need for your application.
Proving Your MDI With Objective Evidence From Acceptable Medical Sources
The SSA only awards SSDI benefits to disabled workers who can prove that they have medically determinable impairments sufficiently severe to make holding a job or earning a living impossible. Your doctor diagnosed you with a disabling condition. Isn't that enough? Unfortunately, no; a diagnosis from your primary care physician and a description of your symptoms isn't enough to prove your impairment to the SSA.
When reviewing the medical report in your application, disability examiners look for objective medical evidence for the validity of your illness. Your medical report should include your medical history, clinical findings from physical or mental examinations, laboratory findings, a prescribed treatment plan detailing your response and prognosis, and a description of what you can still do despite the limitations your MDI causes. However, this information can't come from anywhere or anyone; it must come from acceptable medical sources. These include:
- Licensed medical or osteopathic doctors
- Licensed or certified psychologists at the independent practice level
Some medical professionals are considered AMS only for claims related to their fields of practice, such as:
- Licensed optometrists for claims based on visual disorders and impairments
- Licensed podiatrists for foot or ankle impairments
- Qualified (state-licensed or certified) speech-language pathologist for speech impairments
- Licensed audiologist for claims related to hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, and balance disorders
- Licensed advanced practice registered nurse (can include certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists) for impairments within their licensed scope of practice
- Licensed physicians assistants for claims based on impairments within their field
Other SSDI Eligibility Criteria
Having a qualifying medically determinable impairment provable with objective medical evidence from acceptable medical sources is just one of the criteria you'll have to meet when applying for SSDI. You must also:
- Have enough work credits. Ideally, 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the ten years that preceded your disability diagnosis (though younger workers may qualify with fewer credits). You gain these credits by working in jobs that pay into Social Security.
- Meet the duration requirement. Have a disability that prevents work or substantial gainful activity for a minimum of one year (or is expected to result in death).
- Earn less than the substantial gainful activity limit. Still working? As long as your monthly earnings stay below the SGA cap (in 2022, this was $1,350 per month for most individuals or $2,260 for statutorily blind applicants), the SSA will still consider you disabled for the purpose of SSDI eligibility.
Get Help With Your SSDI Claim
The accomplished attorneys with Keefe Disability Law have helped countless clients complete their SSDI applications and gather the vital medical evidence needed to support their claims. We can connect you with a network of reputable and well-qualified medical professionals who are acceptable medical sources.
Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?
If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.