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What is a Medical Source Statement?

A medical source statement can be an extremely important piece of evidence in a disability case.

Usually 3-7 pages long, a medical source statement is an evaluation of your physical or mental health symptoms filled out by a health care provider.

While diagnoses are helpful in establishing a plan of care, they ultimately mean very little in Social Security disability cases.

The Social Security Administration is much more interested in how your impairments limit you when making a decision about a claim.

For example, if your doctor writes that you have arthritis in your back and knees, someone evaluating your claim will have little understanding of how this impacts you.

But if your doctor writes in a medical source statement that due to the arthritis in your back and knees, you must use a cane to walk and can only walk about a block before having to sit down, this will be much more helpful for your claim.

While medical source statements can help sway your case, it’s important to remember that a strong statement does not automatically guarantee you will win your case.

First, Social Security considers who fills out the statement. While many people now primarily see nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, or social workers for their healthcare needs, these sources do not hold nearly as much weight as an opinion from a physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Second, if your case gets to a hearing, a judge will very likely want to know how a doctor evaluated your physical capabilities before filling out such a statement.

A doctor may write that you can only stand for 10 minutes at a time, but if the doctor wrote this because it’s what you told him, it does not carry the same weight as if he actually observed you standing for 10 minutes before needing to sit.

In addition, a judge will consider how long you have treated with a physician. If you have seen a doctor regularly over the course of several years, this will help your case much more than the opinion of a doctor you’ve seen once or twice.

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