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Your medical records will support your disability claim

When you are preparing to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, gathering the medical records to support your claim is an important first step.

You want the records to provide comprehensive information about your physical or mental impairment, showing that you cannot work for a year or longer.

Records for a physical impairment

You will need a signed letter from a physician verifying your diagnosis, providing the onset date and how the condition limits your ability to work. You should also have medical records with treatment notes from your primary doctor and other healthcare professionals, such as an occupational therapist or rehabilitation specialist. Include assessment records if you use a walker, wheelchair, crutches, canes, a mobility scooter or other such medical equipment. Your doctor must also sign a Physical Residual Functional Capacity form.

Records for a mental impairment

For a mental impairment, gather together files from the vocational rehabilitation program in your state and assessments from your caseworker about your ability to function. Include psychiatric evaluations, neuropsychological test results, letters from any caregiver or nonprofit agency that helps you and pre- and post-disability IQ test results. Your doctor must also sign a Mental Residual Functional Capacity form.

Options for information gathering

The Social Security Administration can pull records from your healthcare providers, which would include doctors, therapists, hospitals and clinics. However, the response from the various sectors could take months. You would save considerable time by collecting records yourself.

Application route for SSD benefits

You may know that a claim for Social Security Disability benefits is not often approved on the first round. Complications may arise in appealing your case, but professional assistance is available. Prepare for this lengthy process by pulling together the appropriate documentation. In every step of the journey toward benefits approval, your medical records will be vital.

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