Acceptable Medical Sources: Which sources are acceptable and what happens to those that are not?

Acceptable Medical Sources:
Which sources are acceptable and what happens to those that are not?

By: Disability Group

When you apply for social security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses many sources of evidence to determine whether your impairments meet their requirements for disability.  To make that determination, SSA considers ALL available evidence in your case record.  This includes:

  • Medical evidence from acceptable medical sources
  • Other evidence from medical sources
  • Statements by yourself and others about the impairments
  • Information from other non-medical sources
  • Decisions by other governmental and nongovernmental agencies

These different forms of evidence, however, are not given the same weight by SSA when they determine whether to award you benefits.  The following should be a handy guide to make a rough estimation as to the weight of the sources that are providing the evidence in your file.

Acceptable Medical Sources

SSA makes a distinction between “acceptable” and “other” sources.  Acceptable medical sources are any of the following:

  • Licensed physicians
  • Licensed or certified psychologists
  • Licensed optometrists
  • Licensed podiatrists
  • Qualified speech-language pathologists

Evidence from “acceptable” medical sources can show that a medically-determinable impairment exists, and can be given the most weight by SSA.  Only “acceptable” medical sources can give medical opinions, which are statements that reflect judgments about the nature and severity of your impairments.  These can include symptoms, diagnoses and prognoses, and what you can and cannot do while impaired.

Other Sources

SSA may also consider evidence from other sources to determine the severity of your impairments and how they affect your ability to function.  These sources can include medical and non-medical sources, including:

  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Social workers and public/private social welfare agency personnel
  • Educational personnel
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Family/friends/caregivers/clergy/employers

While evidence from these sources cannot be used to establish the existence of a medically-determinable impairment, they are still important for your case!  They can provide insight into the severity of your impairment, and how it affects both your daily life and your ability to function in the workplace.

Ultimately, SSA decides how much weight each of the sources of evidence will receive, and there is no set “scale” to use.  SSA will consider the facts of your case, the individual source, the evidence provided, and other factors when determining the issue.  All available relevant evidence will be considered, both from “acceptable” medical sources and “other” sources.

It is up to you, however, to ensure that the SSA has the evidence it needs to make a positive ruling on your claim.  Experienced attorneys can help in compiling the often-extensive evidence, and creating a file that the SSA will use to determine whether or not you receive your disability benefits.

Disability Group Inc.
Disability Group Inc was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at