How to Get Medical Tests to Help Your Disability Application

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Artwork: Zeraph Dylan Moore

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)

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:

Neurocognitive Evaluations

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

Psychiatric and Psychological Assessments

Many people who are disabled experience mental health struggles (even if your disability is physical). If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, it may be helpful for your case if you get an assessment and begin treatment. Ask your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can assess you (not a counselor or therapist!)

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.

ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Here is a long list of many tests others have found helpful: How to Get Tested for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

POTS

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.

Fibromyalgia

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 fibromyalgiaIf you have other symptoms or conditions, please look at the rest of this page, as it will be very helpful if you can include additional tests in your application. One reader reported good experiences with the FM/a test.

Lyme

Please take a look at this page on: How do I prove to Social Security that I have Chronic Lyme Disease?

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. This test is commonly used in private disability cases, (sometimes hired by insurance companies to try to deny benefits). 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, if you are able to find one by a rehabilitation or occupational medicine doctor that is much more likely to be helpful. It is also recommended to try to avoid practitioners who work for insurance companies. It involves physical exertion, so please be careful, especially if you have ME, so it does not worsen your condition.

Mental Illness

Many people with mental illness do not get special tests. They are approved based on records from their psychiatrist, psychologist and/or psychiatric hospital records. Some people get special psychiatric testing. Speak with your doctor or lawyer to see if they can refer you. These tests may not be covered by insurance.

It is very helpful if you are regularly seeing a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist (not just a counselor or therapist), as Social Security has special rules about this.

Examples of tests & medical evidence

These are types of tests that have been successful for other people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme, Toxic Mold exposure and related conditions. If you have experience with these tests, or know of other tests that could be added to this list, please comment below:

  • Bloodwork
  • exercise stress tests
  • sleep studies
  • ultrasounds
  • MRI scans of the brain
  • PET scans of the brain.
  • EEG/QEEG brain maps.
  • The Romberg test
  • Immune system tests
  • neurological testing
  • neuro-psychological testing
  • x-rays showing joint inflammation
  • x-rays – other
  • nerve testing for neuropathy
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • one-day CPETs
  • two-day CPETs (warning: health risk)
  • NASA Lean Test (if performed by an acceptable medical source)
  • psychiatric evaluations
  • Neuroquant (for mold exposure)
  • evaluations by rehabilitation doctors
  • evaluations by occupational medicine doctors
  • tests given by an infectious disease specialist
  • tests given by a doctor who specializes in CFS/ME
  • tender point tests
  • Physical exam showing any kind of Medical signs

Other Illnesses

You can talk to your doctor about what types of testing are common for your condition. Here is a link to the rather confusing Social Security Blue Book. You may be able to find your condition somewhere in there. Good luck!

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