How Far Back Does the SSA Look at Medical Records for Disability Claims?

nursing looking through medical recordsThe Social Security Administration (SSA) generally reviews at least 12 months of a disability benefit applicant’s medical records. However, they may need to look back even further than that, such as if you were diagnosed several years ago. They may need to go back to when you first began receiving medical treatment to determine how your symptoms have progressed.

The SSA must thoroughly review your medical history to determine the extent and severity of the medical condition you are dealing with. Claims examiners want to know if the condition will affect you for at least a year. They also want to determine if you have taken steps to try to improve your condition and whether those steps have been successful.

Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Green Bay have helped disability claimants obtain the benefits they need for over three decades. We offer a free consultation to answer any questions you may have about the process.

What Information is the SSA Looking for?

The SSA needs a detailed medical history to determine if an applicant may be eligible for disability benefits. For example, they will look at relevant test results, which may include:

  • MRIs
  • X-rays
  • CT scans

They will also review records of appointments with doctors and trips to the hospital and other medical facilities. The SSA will want to know about any prescription medications you are taking and how they may be helping with your symptoms.

The SSA also needs names of your doctors and their contact information in case they have questions about your condition or need more information about what they see in your medical records.

For example, the SSA may want to arrange for a consultative exam to be performed by one of your doctors. The SSA may want the doctor who completes the consultative examination to provide a statement about limitations caused by the disabling condition. These limitations could include problems with:

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Lifting things
  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Reaching
  • Stooping
  • Crouching

If your impairment affects your cognitive functions, the SSA may want more information about your ability to:

  • Concentrating
  • Understanding
  • Following instructions
  • Responding to supervision
  • Remembering things

If there is more than one condition affecting your ability to work, the SSA will consider the combined effect of all your medical issues to determine the extent of your disability.

The SSA may need more detail for some medical conditions compared to others. For example, they may need more detail if you are claiming a condition that is not listed in the Blue Book. You can still qualify for benefits if your condition is not listed, but you must have symptoms that are of equal severity to a condition listed in the Blue Book. The SSA may also need to do an assessment of your residual functional capacity to determine your physical capabilities.

Disability benefits are only for long-term medical conditions. There are many health issues that often get better over time, provided patients seek treatment and do what doctors are asking them to do. The SSA needs to determine if you have taken steps to improve your condition. If you have sought treatment and your records show that your condition has not improved, you may be eligible for benefits.

It is important to note the SSA must also consider your ability to work. Even if you have a disabling condition, you are not going to receive benefits if you are still able to work.

What if My Condition is More Than a Year Old?

If you are filing a claim for a condition that is more than a year old, the SSA will need to examine more than just 12 months of your medical records.

For example, if you suffered a debilitating injury two years prior, but were able to work for a year before your condition worsened, you may not have filed an SSD claim because you were able to continue working. However, if you were forced to stop working and you file for SSD benefits two or more years after the injury, the SSA will need to look through your records back to the onset of your disability and possibly further than that.

These older medical records can serve as evidence of your condition as well as how it progressed to prevent you from working. Older records can also prove that you made the effort to continue working and held off filing for SSD benefits until you could no longer earn a paycheck.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today

If you need help applying for SSD benefits, call our knowledgeable attorneys today. Our firm has helped countless applicants obtain disability.

The consultation is free. We also do not charge you anything up front. We only get paid when we successfully help you obtain the disability benefits you need.

Call (877) 888-5201 for help today.