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.”