What should I know about the term “medically determinable impairment?”

A physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings – not only by the individual’s statement of symptoms. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has taken a common-sense approach on this issue.

If your treating doctor is able to make a legitimate diagnosis determined by anything other than your description of your symptoms, the SSA will almost always conclude you have a medically determinable impairment. For example, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made on the basis of counting tender points.

Additionally, in some circumstances, the SSA may conclude that your description of your symptoms standing alone may constitute the necessary finding. Migraine headaches, for instance, are medically determinable based upon the symptoms you describe if the doctor can rule out any other causes of those symptoms.

Showing that you have a “medically determinable impairment” is just one of the steps to getting approved for benefits. Contact a Lakeland disability attorney for more information.


Does my treating doctor know what the SSA defines as “disability?”

No. The SSA uses its own definition of “disability.” It is not the job of your treating doctor to figure out if you are disabled or not. In fact, the SSA assumes treating doctors know nothing about the standards for determining disability.

The SSA is interested in your doctor’s medical opinion about symptoms and what you, as the patient, can and cannot do. Should your doctor offer an opinion regarding the fact that he or she believes you are disabled, the SSA will, for all practical purposes, ignore it.

The standards for a finding of disability are specific, often complex, and very much on an individual, case-by case basis. The success of your application is greatly increased with the guidance of a Lakeland disability attorney. The firm of Smith, Feddeler & Smith is available for a complimentary consultation to explain your options. For an appointment, call (877) 688-7766.

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