Medical Evidence in a Tennessee SSD Case

When you apply for Social Security Disability, you’ll likely have to wait several months before the Social Security office informs you of whether or not it has approved your benefits claim. But the processing of applications can take much longer, if claims reviewers determine the medical evidence is insufficient to prove your disability.

You may be asked to gather and submit additional medical records and provide testimony from other parties. Without thorough documentation of your illness or injury, and your inability to work, your claim may be denied.

Hiring an experienced SSD attorney can help you avoid some of the common application errors regarding medical records. Your attorney can request the appropriate medical documents from your healthcare providers and gather appropriate statements from medical providers, as necessary.

Applying for benefits can be a long, complex process – one that you shouldn’t have to handle on your own.

John R. Colvin has represented many Tennessee Valley SSD applicants and handled the appeals process for people whose claims were denied. If you need help with your SSD case, call our office today to request your free consultation: call 1-931-962-1044.

The Extent of Medical Evidence

Many first-time SSD applicants may be surprised to learn just how much evidence the Social Security Administration requires. At a minimum, you will need records to indicate your diagnosis, your prognosis for recovery, and how, specifically, your illness or injury prevents you from working and/or interferes with your activities of daily life.

If an applicant’s disability is a brain injury or other cognitive impairment, the SSA will want to see evidence regarding the applicant’s ability to understand, remember, follow instructions, and interact appropriately with coworkers and supervisors.

Depending on the nature of your disability, the SSA may require several reports, including:

Work History Report – This report includes an applicant’s employment history for the 15 years preceding disability. You don’t need to provide the name of each employer, if you’ve had multiple jobs, as claims reviewers are more interested in the type of work you’ve done and for how long. (Applicants with very little primary school education who have worked primarily as physical laborers for 35 years or more may need to list all jobs).

The SSA wants to see as much detail as possible about your previous job functions, such as:

  • Whether you used machines or equipment
  • The amount of physical activity required
  • Whether writing was one of your job functions
  • Other information that describes skills you have used or developed on the job.

The SSA uses the Work History Report in determining whether you are able to perform any work. For example, if you have worked as a welder most of your life, but also worked briefly in a customer service call center, the SSA may decide your disability does not prevent you from call center work.

Function Report – This report may not be necessary if the applicant has a condition that is obviously a permanent and total disability, such as inoperable malignant cancer. However, a Function Report is an important piece of information that provides the claims reviewer indication of limitations and difficulties a claimant experiences with the performance of certain activities. Function Report is often necessary to determine whether the applicant is largely unable to perform normal functions of daily life, such as grooming or simple household chores.

Third Party Reports – Often included in this report are statements from teachers, employers, social workers, clergy, and family members that illustrate how your disability has affected your life.

When an SSD applicant has never worked, or hasn’t worked long enough to be eligible for SSD, he or she may still be eligible for “disabled widow’s and widower’s benefits.” The benefits payable are based on the earning record of a deceased wage earner who, at the time of their death, had sufficient quarters of coverage. Therefore, claimant’s benefits are based on the deceased spouse’s work history once disability is proven by the claimant.

Additional Documentation

If supporting documentation is inadequate, the SSA can request additional evidence via a consultative exam. The SSA may ask for something very specific in the consultative exam, such as an X-ray or blood work. Normally, the SSA will ask the applicant’s treating physician to conduct this exam and report the results. But if the physician is unwilling or unable, or if the applicant would prefer to have a different doctor perform the exam, another doctor may conduct the exam. The SSA may also have a history with a particular physician; and if it believes the doctor “may not be a productive source,” it may require another doctor’s opinion.

Introducing the Right Evidence

The SSA has a mounting backlog of SSD claims to process, so attorneys work at obtaining and submitting evidence which is directly relevant to a client’s case and supports a finding a disability. Experienced SSD attorneys also can identify potential problems with evidence. For example, if a doctor’s statement is unclear about whether a patient’s back injury makes work impossible, an attorney may seek supporting testimony from a vocational expert who can present a stronger and more compelling argument that the injury is disabling.

If you’re ready to schedule your free SSD consultation with John R. Colvin, contact us online, or call us at: 1-931-962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama