If you are applying for Social Security disability, it will help your application a great deal if you have at least one piece of “objective medical evidence”.
Objective medical evidence is something that proves your illness exists in the world.
Your evidence can be a lab test, blood work, or an assessment by a specialist. It can also be something your doctor observes while examining you (these are called Medical signs)
Ideally you would like to have at least one piece of medical evidence for each condition you have been diagnosed with. If you already have some evidence, and you are wondering if you need more, or wondering if your test results are “good enough” check out: How Many Medical Tests Do I Need?
If you would like to get more tests or evidence, here are some ideas:
What Helps The Most?
We asked people: What medical test was the most helpful for your disability approval?. The majority of responses on this page came from people who were diagnosed with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We also received responses from people with Lyme, Fibro, Mold Exposure, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and related conditions.
ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Social Security has a special ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Here is are the ruling guidelines on medical tests: How to Collect Medical Evidence for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Social Security will also consider other tests not listed in the ruling. If you are interested in more testing, here is a long list of many tests others have found helpful: How to Get Tested for ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you have ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, mental health may be very important to your disability claim. It may be the difference between getting approved and getting denied: How to Include Mental Health
Many people with ME, Lyme, and related conditions also experience symptoms of POTS. There is a Simple test for POTS you can do at home by measuring your heart rate, as well as more sophisticated tests by a cardiologist.
The Social Security Ruling on Fibromyalgia includes a description of specific outcomes on a tender point test. Ideally this would be performed by a rheumatologist or orthopedist, but any MD or any doctor who is an acceptable medical source can perform this test. One way to show the outcome of this test is to get a Special RFC form for fibromyalgia. You can also check out this page of stories from people who were approved for disability for Fibromyalgia.
For information on testing, please take a look at this page on: How do I prove to Social Security Disability that I have Chronic Lyme Disease?
For a general guide to applying: Disability for Lymies. If you have Lyme, mental health may be very important to your disability claim. It may be the difference between getting approved and getting denied: How to Include Mental Health
It is difficult to get approved directly for mold exposure. Your chances may be better if your application also includes all symptoms or conditions caused by the mold. See the listings on this page for Fibro and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Also see below for information on Neuropsych testing and brain scans. One type of brain scan sometimes used by mold survivors is called a Neuroquant.
Also check out this fantastic list from Surviving Toxic Mold with information on other conditions people with mold exposure might get approved for.
If you have experienced mold exposure, mental health may be very important to your disability claim. It may be the difference between getting approved and getting denied: How to Include Mental Health
Psychiatric and Psychological Assessments
If depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are part of your application, please learn more about How to Document Mental Health for a Disability Application
If you are having difficulties with memory, focus, or concentration, a neurocognitive evaluation may be helpful to you. This is a test of your ability to function mentally and cognitively. It is sometimes covered by insurance. It can be used for any physical or mental condition that causes problems with focus, concentration or memory. How to Find a Good Neuropsychologist
Some people report success using brain scans to document a diagnosis Lyme, ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CIRS, mold exposure, or a related condition. Types of brain scans include SPECT and xenon SPECT scans of the brain, MRI scans of the brain (do not always show results), Functional MRIs, PET scans of the brain and EEG/QEEG brain maps.
Vocational Rehabilitation Testing
You may be able to get free testing by enrolling in a Vocational Rehabilitation agency or program. They will often perform free testing in physical abilities, cognitive abilities, and employment skills. The purpose of the program is to help you find employment, however in some cases they conclude that the person is too limited to work. Social Security will read all files from the program (not just the test results, everything the caseworker or anyone else writes). This may help or hurt your case, depending on what is written.
Extremely Important for All Tests
Do not rely on the doctors hired by Social Security or your LTD company. Select your own doctor and arrange your own testing.
Functional Capacity Evaluations
This is a test of your ability to function physically. It is not covered by insurance. It can be used for any physical condition. It is not covered by insurance and often costs $400-$800.
This test is commonly used in private disability cases, (sometimes hired by insurance companies to try to deny benefits). If your insurance company sends you to an FCE, it is very important to also get your own FCE by someone you select, since the doctor’s from the insurance company are well known for being unsupportive and unhelpful for disability claims. It is recommended to try to avoid practitioners who work for insurance companies.
Some readers report successfully using this test with SSDI cases, but since it is not commonly used this way, it’s difficult to assess how helpful it is. It is often performed by a physical therapist. However, Social Security has special rules about types of doctors, so if you are able to find one by a rehabilitation or occupational medicine doctor that is much more likely to be helpful. It involves physical exertion, so please be careful, especially if you have ME, so it does not worsen your condition.
Social Security has a Blue Book that provides guidelines for many conditions. The Blue Book is complex and this is an advanced-level approach that most people don’t try. If you would like to use the blue book, here’s How to Use the Social Security Blue Book to Get Approved for Disability.