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3 types of documentation which can strengthen your disability claim


Denial is a common outcome for people seeking Social Security Disability benefits. According to a Social Security Administration report, in 2010, only 34.8 percent of claims were ultimately approved. As any disability attorney in Tennessee knows, many claims are denied initially due to inadequate documentation. Consequently, applicants may be able to reduce their risk of denial by providing the following supporting evidence.

Medical records

Many SSD claims are denied because medical evidence is lacking. In 2010, about 24 percent of denials were made for medical reasons. Applicants always should provide clear medical documentation to prove their conditions meet specific criteria or preclude gainful work.

Applicants must take care to submit acceptable medical evidence. The newest evidence should be less than six months old, and it shouldn't contradict other available evidence. Social Security also requires evidence from an "acceptable medical source," such as a licensed physician, to establish the existence of a disabling condition. Appropriate documentation includes professional evaluations, medical imaging, clinical findings, treatment records and medication lists.

RFC evaluation

Residual functional capacity reflects an applicant's ability to perform various tasks, given his or her ailments. Claims examiners usually assess RFC to determine whether an applicant is capable of working. Applicants can strength their claims by including an evaluation from a treating professional who understands the applicant's functional restrictions.

As any disability attorney in Tennessee understands, Social Security's RFC assessment form allows for a detailed evaluation of mental or physical restrictions. A full assessment may discuss an applicant's ability to do the following:

  • Perform or sustain exertional activities, such as lifting and standing
  • Carry out non-exertional tasks, such as crouching or manipulating objects
  • Hear, see and communicate
  • Work in strenuous settings, such as hot or dusty environments
  • Focus, remember tasks and interact appropriately with others

Many of these restrictions may not be evident to a claims examiner who is reviewing only medical evidence. Therefore, as a disability attorney in Tennessee might note, an RFC evaluation that agrees with available medical evidence can bolster a claim.

Vocational background

Some SSD applicants receive benefits based solely on their disabling conditions, but most applicants must show that they cannot work. In 2010, over 54 percent of denied SSD claims were declined because applicants were deemed capable of resuming past work or transitioning to new work.

A detailed vocational history can prove a disabling condition precludes all work that an applicant is qualified for. This documentation should include any jobs performed in the last 15 years. Applicants should document the hours and work environment, along with any physical requirements or special skills needed. If an applicant's disabling condition existed during a prior job, the applicant should also describe how the condition adversely affected job performance.

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