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Social Security decisions – what are they looking for?

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Social Security decisions – what are they looking for?

January 8, 2010


In an earlier blog entry, we discussed, in general terms, how Social Security’s decision makers evaluate a claim for disability and therefore how claimant’s should look at their claims as well. The question then becomes, what evidence do I need to prove my claim and to prove what I am saying is true and/or credible. The allegations of disability need to be in line with the medical evidence.

Social Security divides evidence into two categories: “acceptable medical sources” ; and “other sources” , which include medical sources that are not “acceptable medical sources.”

Under Social Security regulations, “acceptable medical sources” are:

  • Licensed physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors);
  • Licensed or certified psychologists;
  • Licensed optometrists;
  • Licensed podiatrist; and
  • Qualified speech-language pathologists.

Under Social Security regulations, “other sources” include:

  • Medical sources who are not “acceptable medical sources, ” such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, licensed clinical social workers, naturopaths, chiropractors, audiologists, and therapists;
  • Educational personnel, such as school teachers, counselors, daycare workers;
  • Public and private social welfare agency personnel, rehabilitation counselors; and
  • Spouses, parents and other caregivers, siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors, clergy, employers.

The distinction to be made here is that only “acceptable medical sources” can establish the existence of an impairment; only “acceptable medical sources” can give medical opinions; and only “acceptable medical sources” can be considered treating sources, whose medical opinions would be entitled to controlling weight or a certain level of deference. In other words, “acceptable medical sources” is what Social Security hangs it’s hat on in approving a claim. Social security would not approve a claim, for example, based solely on a claimant’s testimony and evidence from non “acceptable medical source” such as a chiropractor. However, evidence from “other sources” is still important to paint an entire picture when used in conjunction with “acceptable medical sources.”

Call one of our Social Security attorneys with any questions you may have. We are glad to answer your questions or set up a convenient free consultation at one of our Jacksonville offices.

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