What Are Acceptable Medical Sources?

July 31, 2018
Dayes Law Firm

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has various rules on how it evaluates the evidence you submit about your disability. This includes rules on what it considers to be acceptable medical sources. It is important to understand how the SSA defines acceptable medical sources and how information from them may affect your case.

The Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers from Dayes Law Firm PC are familiar with all aspects of disability law. We can help you gather information from acceptable medical sources to help build a strong case for why you should receive disability benefits. Contact us now for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

Acceptable Medical Sources

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits largely depends on being able to meet the medical criteria to establish your disability. You are responsible for gathering your medical records and showing how you meet the criteria set by the SSA.

However, the SSA has specific rules related to acceptable medical sources, which are health care providers or institutions that can provide medical evidence to the SSA that supports that you have a qualifying impairment. Acceptable medical sources include:

  • Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatrists
  • Speech pathologists

These acceptable medical sources may provide various medical records to the SSA, including:

  • Medical histories
  • Laboratory test results
  • Treatment history
  • Statement on your residual functional capacity
  • Clinical findings

In order for the SSA to award you with disability benefits, it must have complete and detailed records that show the nature of your disability, its expected duration and your level of functioning.

In addition to this important medical information, the SSA may also consider non-medical evidence, such as statements about your physical limitations from public and private social welfare agency personnel, nurse practitioners, previous coworkers and neighbors.

Recent Changes to Acceptable Medical Sources

In 2017, the SSA implemented new rules regarding acceptable medical sources. In addition to the acceptable medical sources that the SSA acknowledged, it added three new acceptable medical sources:

  • Audiologists
  • Physician assistants
  • Advanced practice registered nurses

These sources are recognized within their licensed scope of practice. The SSA decided to add these professionals because it found an appropriate level of consistency or rigor in the education, training, certification and scope of practice for their profession.

The SSA also updated criteria of other acceptable medical sources to reflect current licensing, credential requirements and scope of practice. The SSA currently requires objective medical evidence from one of these sources to establish the existence of a disability. It may also require evidence from one of these sources to show that your impairment meets the criteria for a listing in the Blue Book.

The SSA also updated how it considers medical opinions offered by acceptable medical sources. Specifically, the SSA does not attribute a specific evidentiary weight to medical opinions. Instead, all medical evidence is considered, including the persuasiveness of medical opinions as determined by the SSA representative considering various factors included in the SSA rules. The support and consistency of the medical opinion are considered the two most important factors.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

Many Social Security Disability claims are initially denied because medical records are incomplete or do not show the true severity of the claimant’s impairment. This is why it is important that you provide comprehensive evidence of your medical issues.

An experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from Dayes Law Firm PC can help determine if your medical records are from an acceptable medical source. He or she may recommend that you supplement these records with new medical reports if they are not current or are not from the acceptable medical sources required by the SSA.

An experienced lawyer can walk you through each step of the claims process. He or she can help with all levels of appeal if your claim is denied.

We can discuss whether you might qualify for Social Security benefits during a free initial consultation. We work on a contingency fee and only charge for our services if your claim is approved.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today.