The Social Security Administration explains more than once on its website that “medical evidence is the cornerstone of the disability determination.” While that requirement for qualifying to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) could not be stated any more clearly, what the agency considers credible and convincing medical evidence is not at all obvious. Nor is it immediately understandable how such evidence should be collected and presented as part of the application process.

The Ohio disability lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman have helped many people applying for SSDI and SSI figure all that out. That experience has taught us that we can provide the best assistance when clients know up front what information we need to give their Social Security application the greatest chance of succeeding. With this in mind, we offer the following summary of medical evidence requirements.


Make Sure You Suffer From a Qualifying Condition

To again quote Social Security, a disabled person is one with “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity … by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Listing each specific health problem the agency recognizes as disabling, would take most of the megabytes allotted for hosting our firm’s website. The full list does exist, though, with conditions organized into the following categories:

  • Low Birth Weight and Failure to Thrive (for applicants younger than 18)
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Special Sense and Speech
  • Respiratory System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive System
  • Genitourinary Disorders
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Congenital Disorders That Affect Multiple Body Systems (i.e., severe birth defects and genetic diseases)
  • Neurological (e.g., traumatic brain injuries)
  • Mental Disorders (e.g., schizophrenia)
  • Cancer
  • Immune System Disorders


Know Whose Diagnosis and Opinion Matters

SSDI and SSI case evaluators want to receive medical records from health care professionals who have treated you for many months or years. They also want the paperwork and opinions to come from licensed providers who have previously worked with patients who qualified for Social Security disability benefits.

The list of health care providers the agency deems “acceptable” looks like this:

  • Medical doctors
  • Osteopathic doctors
  • Certified psychologist, including those who practice in schools
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatrists
  • Speech-language pathologists


Collect the Appropriate Information

Optometrists should work on behalf of SSDI and SSI applicants with eye-related disabilities, and so forth. The information case evaluators want to receive from care providers includes

  • A confirmed diagnosis
  • A prognosis
  • A full medical history, including symptoms like pain and confusion
  • Findings from physical or mental exams and lab test
  • A treatment plan, including all forms of therapy and courses of medications
  • Opinions on what the patient can do in terms of working for pay and caring for themselves despite being physically, mentally, or neurologically impaired


Be Prepared to Provide More Than Medical Evidence

Either on application forms or in later filings and discussions with SSDI and SSI case evaluators, you will need to provide proof of age, U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status, and Social Security eligibility. Your marital status, current income and financial assets, and employment history will also be assessed.

Collaborating with a Cleveland disability attorney from the time you first start preparing your Social Security application can help you make sure to gather and deliver all the information necessary to support your case. To find out if Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman can perform this service for you, call (800) 678-3318 or contact us online to request a free consultation.