There are a few different ways to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. One can file online at, by mail, or in person at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Regardless of the way an SSDI claimant in Clearwater chooses to file, a strong application requires the support of thorough medical documentation. For help gathering records and putting together a strong case for benefits, many applicants choose to rely on an experienced SSDI attorney.

Medical Documentation

When filing for SSDI, an applicant should have documentation of any medical treatment they have had in the last year. At the very least, they should have the contact information for all of the medical providers, including hospitals. The SSA will use this information to develop the file and secure any and all medical records that are relevant to the time period of alleged disability. In general, it is in the best interests of a claimant to establish as much medical treatment as they can before filing and to continue treating throughout the application process.

Some claimants only have a primary care physician due to limited financial resources. They may see a family doctor for all of their medical needs, whether it be a potential diabetic condition, a thyroid condition, or even chronic pain. Other claimants may have access to specialists, such as orthopedists, neurologists, or cardiologists. Whatever the case, SSDI applicants should have all that information at their fingertips. Thorough documentation helps prove their cause and support the claim they are disabled.

What if the Applicant Does Not Have Access to Medical Records?

In some cases, applicants do not have access to their medical records. This could be because their doctors closed their practice or refused to release records to them. SSA can try to secure as much evidence as it needs in the initial stages, and an applicant can grant SSA permission to collect records on their behalf. Additionally, one of the things an SSDI attorney could do is attempt to continue securing the information on behalf of the claimant. The applicant’s attorney could attempt to make their file as thorough and complete as possible.

Consultative Exams

If SSA needs more information before making a determination, it may request the applicant undergo a consultative exam. This is common for claimants who have limited resources and have been receiving treatment exclusively from a primary care physician. In this situation, SSA may want more objective information about the impairments and the severity of the symptoms.

The consultative exam is a medical examination, usually performed by an internal medicine doctor or primary care physician. This exam is paid for by the administration. Evaluators often conduct range-of-motion testing, take the applicant’s history, and give a definitive diagnostic impression. They may even go further and give an opinion about the potential limitations of the applicant. For people alleging psychological impairments, the administration often sends them for a more specific evaluation focused on mental symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.

At the conclusion of the exam, the evaluator indicates what limitations the applicant has that may interfere with an ability to work. Social Security uses this as another piece of evidence to help them draw a conclusion about whether or not a person meets the requirements for disability.

Let a Clearwater Attorney Help You Gather Medical Documentation

Medical documentation is vital when applying for SSDI, but many Clearwater residents have difficulty acquiring all of their records or assembling them into a compelling application. For this reason, many people choose to retain a knowledgeable attorney. An SSDI lawyer could help you file your application, appeal a denial, or even represent you in a hearing. To schedule a consultation, call today.

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    "They have changed my life. I worried everyday about being homeless an struggle with health care. Thanks to their knowledge, an their staff. They gathered all my health info, kept in communication with me, and do things in a timely manner. I did get my disability, after 7 yes wasted with another attorney. I highly recommend them!"
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