There are a variety of medical providers who treat medical conditions. However, the Social Security Administration maintains a specific list of medical professionals they consider Acceptable Medical Sources. They include: licensed physicians (both Medical and Osteopathic Doctors), Licensed or Certified Psychologists, School Psychologists can opine on learning and intellectual disabilities, Licensed Optometrists, Licensed Podiatrists, Qualified Speech Language Pathologists, Licensed Physician Assistants for claims filed after March 27, 2017, Licensed Audiologists, and Licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses for claims filed after March 27, 2017 (there are 4 kinds of Advanced Nurse Practitioners: 1. Certified Nurse Midwife, 2. Nurse Practitioner, 3. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and 4. Clinical Nurse Specialists).
Only acceptable medical providers can establish the existence of a medically determinable impairment. Meaning, only the providers listed above can establish a medical diagnosis in the file. They are also the only providers who can provide medical opinions. To establish a medical impairment, the file must also contain objective medical evidence. Objective medical evidence includes things like laboratory findings, imaging like MRIs or X-rays, and mental status exams.
What that leaves out are the variety of other providers you might see to treat your condition. Those providers are people like social workers, physical therapists, chiropractors, naturopaths and therapists. Records from these providers are still important as they can provide evidence of the consistency of symptoms and efforts to relief symptoms. It is important, however, to receive treatment from at least one Acceptable Medical Source. If you suffer from debilitating back pain and the only provider you see is a chiropractor, it will be hard to establish that you even have a diagnosis. When Social Security is looking at your case, they look to see what kind of providers you see, what treatment you have received and the consistency of your complaints. And all of that needs to be documented in legible notes from an Acceptable Medical Source.