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What type of documentation do I need to provide?

Before the Social Security Administration will let you collect any disability benefits, it needs to know the nature of your impairment, and how it prevents you from working. It should come as no surprise when we tell you the SSA won't just take your word for it. The SSA wants medical evidence.

By law, the SSA must have what it calls objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source, showing that the applicant has an impairment. It also needs reports and other documentation showing the severity of the impairment. To determine whether the impairment meets the required standards of severity, the SSA examines all the applicable medical and nonmedical evidence. Medical evidence consists of reports from the applicant's own doctors, any hospital records, and material from other sources, such as medical literature. Nonmedical evidence includes the applicant's reports about how the impairment has affected their life, along with reports from teachers,

If the SSA determines that the applicant's evidence is insufficient, it may contact the applicant's medical sources for more information. It may even schedule a consultative examination, using the applicant's own doctor or another medical professional. This examination will gather more evidence the SSA will use in its decision-making process.

Applicants have an obligation to provide all evidence they know about to establish that they are disabled, and this obligation is ongoing. If they have a checkup later on that shows that their condition has significantly improved, they must let the SSA know about it.

An attorney with experience in Social Security Disability benefits law can help people gather the information they need and present it in a way that improves their chances of being approved the first time they apply, and argue on their behalf should they need to try again.

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