By: Disability Group
The Social Security Administration has established regulations pertaining to what types of medical providers can give opinions and provide evidence regarding an individual’s conditions and functional limitations. Normally, evidence from chiropractors, nurses, and physical therapists will not be given considerable weight because these professions are not considered “acceptable medical sources” by Social Security.
Under Social Security regulations, acceptable medical sources include:
- licensed physicians,
- licensed or certified psychologists,
- licensed optometrists,
- licensed podiatrists
- qualified speech-language pathologists.
However, Social Security Administration allows evidence from “other sources” to be considered when evaluating the strength of an individual’s claim. These “other sources” may include: audiologists, chiropractors, licensed clinical social workers, naturopaths, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, therapists. Furthermore, non-medical sources such as educational personnel, employers and family caregivers may also be considered.
It must be noted however, that although evidence from other medical sources may be considered by Social Security, “information from these sources cannot establish the existence of a medically determinable impairment. Instead, there must be evidence from an acceptable medical source for this purpose.” The natural consequence of this means that an acceptable medical source is still needed to establish the diagnosis or condition. Fortunately, once the condition has been established by an acceptable medical source, other medical sources may provide evidence regarding the functional limitations and the severity of the condition.
It is worth noting that Social Security will consider the same factors in evaluating medical opinions from acceptable medical sources and opinion evidence from other sources. The factors considered include but are not limited to: how long the source has seen the claimant, the frequency of treatment, the consistency of the opinion with the other evidence and the degree to which the source presents relevant evidence to support an opinion.
Evidence from an acceptable medical source is usually the best way to establish the existence and severity of a condition. However, once the condition has been established by this source, evidence from the aforementioned other sources may be a persuasive way to convince Social Security of your disability and functional limitations.