Social Security requires evidence from an acceptable medical source to establish that an individual applicant has a medically determinable mental disorder. This evidence is necessary to assess the severity of a mental disorder and its effects on the person’s ability to function in a work setting. Social Security determines the extent and kinds of necessary evidence from medical and non-medical sources based on the facts of each individual disorder.

Social Security basically considers evidence of mental disorders from the following five categories:

  1. Evidence from medical sources.
  2. Evidence from the applicant and people who know the applicant.
  3. Evidence from school, vocational training, work, and work-related programs.
  4. Longitudinal evidence.
  5. Evidence of functioning in unfamiliar situations or supportive situations.

*Evidence from medical sources.  Social Security considers all relevant medical evidence about a disorder from the applicant’s physician, psychologist, and other medical sources, which include healthcare providers such as physician assistants, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, and clinical mental health counselors. Evidence from medical sources may include:

    1. Reported symptoms.
    2. Medical, psychiatric, and psychological history.
    3. The results of physical or mental status examinations, structured clinical interviews, psychiatric or psychological rating scales, measures of adaptive functioning, or other clinical findings.
    4. Psychological testing, imaging results, or other laboratory findings.
    5. Diagnosis.
    6. The type, dosage, and beneficial effects of medications taken.
    7. The type, frequency, duration, and beneficial effects of therapy received.
    8. Side effects of medication or other treatment that limit the ability to function.
    9. A personal clinical course, including changes in medication, therapy, or other treatment, and the time required for therapeutic effectiveness.
    10. Observations and descriptions of how the applicant functions during examinations or therapy.
    11. Information about sensory, motor, or speech abnormalities, or about an applicant’s cultural background that may affect an evaluation of mental disorder.
  1. The expected duration of an applicant’s symptoms and signs and their effects on functioning, both currently and in the future.

*Evidence from the applicant and people who know the applicant.  Social Security considers all relevant evidence about a mental disorder and an applicant’s daily functioning that it receives from the applicant and from people who know the applicant. Social Security asks about symptoms, daily functioning, and medical treatment. Social Security also requests information from third parties who may have relevant information about an applicant’s mental disorder, but only with permission of the applicant. This evidence may include information from family, caregivers, friends, neighbors, clergy, case managers, social workers, shelter staff, or other community support and outreach workers. Social Security considers whether personal and third party statements are consistent with all of the evidence it has in its file.

Please see the next blog which discusses the other three categories of evidence that may establish a mental disorder.

One of the best ways to make sure you understand all of the technical, legal requirements associated with a mental disorder and applying for disability benefits is to retain the services of an experienced, knowledgeable and qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so there is absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you. Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online.Using Evidence To Establish A Mental Disorder, Part 1