One of the primary steps in filing a disability claim is submitting medical evidence to back up the fact that you are disabled, and to prove to the agency that how debilitating your condition is. Disability programs will request such records from all your treating physicians as well as any clinics or hospitals where you have received treatment. You should contact all treaters in advance to prepare copies of your records for this request, however, if you have retained a lawyer, he or she should take care of this for you.
Your job, either way, is to make out a comprehensive list of your treating physicians and institutions, and proof of compliance with treatment. But, how do you know which records are important? Read on to learn more:
1. Medical History
Disability programs are especially concerned with the opinions of doctors who are treating you currently, since they will understand your medical background better than any doctor that has seen you once or twice, such as their designated physician. He or she should be able to provide “longitudinal” records, which include a detailed medical history, and these can be especially valuable if you plan on requesting retroactive benefits dating back to the onset of your disability.
Your primary physician also has the distinction of being the person who probably first treated the issue and referred you to any specialists that you may currently be seeing.
2. Clear restrictions and limitations due to your disability
It is especially important to get statements from each of your doctors in writing, detailing clear restrictions and limitations and your capacity to perform specific types of work. This would include your ability to understand and carry out instructions, adapt to changes, concentrate, walk, stand, lift, speak, hear, see, and sit for extended periods. These restrictions, of course, would be completely dependent upon your disability and your job.
3. Compliance with Treatment Plans
Most disability programs have a list of particular types of treatment providers that it considers to be “acceptable medical sources.” These providers include all licensed physicians, including specialists of all kinds, such as orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, neurologists, podiatrists, optometrists, speech-language pathologists, and psychiatrists. Psychologists, physical therapists, and chiropractors are not physicians and do not fall into this category.
Any records that you may have from a hospital are also considered to be very helpful. This can include emergency room records or those from detailed hospital stays. As long as you were treated by a licensed physician for a condition related to your disability, the records should be included.
It is vital to provide medical records that show your illness is ongoing and consistent. There are laboratory tests, such as blood and urine analyses, images, such as MRIs and x-rays, and other types of clinical examination results and diagnostic tests, such as biopsies or brain scans. Records of these results are crucial to proving that you have an ongoing disability.
Your treating physicians should also provide detailed accounts of your diagnoses, any medication that you may be on and its side effects, and any symptoms that may affect your ability to function in a work environment, such as fatigue or pain. What your you or lawyer need to prove is consistency.
In conclusion, medical evidence to back up your disability claim can take many forms, and the extent to which you should provide treatment notes, test results, and medical records is completely dependent upon the scope of your disability. However, it is always best to include as much documentation as you can to prove your case.