What Evidence Do I Need for SSDI?

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What Evidence Do I Need for SSDI? Social Security pays SSDI benefits when you have a medical condition or combination of conditions that prevent you from working.  Your medical impairments must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  Additionally, you must have worked for a certain number of years.  Generally, you need to have worked for at least 5 out of the last 10 years.  Social Security requires certain evidence to support your SSDI claim.

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Disability Report

Naturally, SSDI applications require a lot of information.  Part of the application process includes providing a form called the Disability Report.  This form includes information about your doctors, hospital visits and medications.  You should only include treatment information for the time that you have been unable to work.  Social Security contacts the doctors and hospitals you provide in the Disability Report.  If you don’t provide complete information, Social Security may not get important medical records.  This could end up resulting in Social Security denying your claim. 

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Work History Report

Social Security requires information about your work history going back 15 years.  You should provide a clear description of each of your past jobs.  Social Security could deny your case if they don’t categorize your past work accurately.  Social Security can deny you for not returning the work history report forms. 

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Function Reports

Social Security needs to understand how your conditions impact your daily functioning.  Therefore, they send you a Function Report to complete.  This form asks you to describe how you perform normal daily activities.  It is important to describe any problems you have or any assistance you need for your daily activities. 

Medical Evidence for SSDI

Your medical evidence should include records only for the period of time that you became disabled and unable to work.  Your treatment should also be continuous and ongoing.  Medical evidence can include:

  • Firstly, Treatment notes and physical examinations
  • Secondly, Imaging such as MRIs, x-rays, CT scans or nerve testing
  • Thirdly, Blood work or biopsy results
  • Fourthly, Pulmonary tests
  • Lastly, Mental health records

Example 1: medical evidence for SSDI

For example, Kelly injured her neck in a car accident.  She required a cervical spinal fusion surgery.  Despite surgery, she continued to have severe pain and difficulty moving her neck.  She also still had problems using her hands due to numbness and tingling.  Kelly sees her doctors regularly for her symptoms.  Her records include x-rays, MRIs and nerve testing documenting her neck impairments.  Her doctors also continue to note limited range of motion and decreased sensation and strength in her arms and hands in their office notes.  Kelly provided proof through her medical records that her conditions caused a serious problem using her arms and hands.  As a result, Social Security approved Kelly’s claim. 

Medical evidence for SSDI from specialists

The type of treatment you receive can also impact your disability claim.  Often, records kept by specialists record your symptoms and problems better than a primary doctor.  They focus on specific information that Social Security needs to approve your disability benefits.  This can include special tests or examinations.  This can especially be true for any mental health impairments.  Generally, receiving medication from your primary doctor will not be enough to document your mental health conditions.  

Example 2:  medical evidence from specialists 

As an example, Julie suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.  Her panic attacks happen unexpectedly.  She receives medication from her psychiatrist.  She also sees a therapist regularly.  However, she still suffers from panic attacks many times during the day.  She has even had to go the emergency room during her panic attacks.  Her panic attacks make it hard for her to finish things she starts.  At times, her panic attacks keep her from leaving the house.  Social Security finds that Julie would miss work a lot due to her panic attacks.  Therefore, Julie qualifies for disability benefits. 

Medical evidence for SSDI and RFC forms

Residual functional capacity (RFC) forms can help support your disability claim.  RFC forms explain how your symptoms impact your ability to work.  An RFC form can include both mental and physical limitations. 

Physical RFC forms

A physical RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • How long  you can sit, stand or walk at one time or in an 8 hour work day
  • How much weight you can lift or carry
  • If you need an assistive device such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or crutches
  • Using your arms and hands for activities such as reaching, pushing, pulling, gripping or grasping objects
  • If pain, fatigue, other symptoms or side effects from medications cause limitations with concentration, persistence or pace

Mental RFC forms

A mental RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • Your ability to understand, remember or carry out instructions, interact with others such as supervisors, co-workers or the general public
  • Your ability to maintain attention and concentration
  • If your symptoms interfere with your ability to show up to work, arrive on time or have to leave early

Example 3:  medical evidence and RFC forms

For example, say you are under the age of 50 and worked before as a waitress.  You have a back injury that interferes with your ability to do this type of work.  You also have side effects from your medications that make you drowsy.  In an RFC form, your doctor states that you cannot sit for more than 3hours or stand or walk for more than 2 hours in a work day.  Your doctor also states that you have problems with attention and focus due to your medications.  These limitations help support your disability claim because it shows that you could not work a full 8 hour day. 

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