The Right Kind of Doctor – applied after March 27, 2017

Social Security has some very particular ideas about what kind of doctor they would like you to see. If you first applied on or after March 27, 2017, these rules will apply to you.

Social Security considers these doctors to be Acceptable Medical Sources:

  • Medical Doctor (MD)
  • Osteopathic doctor (DO)
  • Licensed psychiatrists (mental health)
  • Licensed or certified psychologists at the independent practice level (mental health)
  • School psychologists, or licensed individuals who perform the same function as a school psychologist (for intellectual disability, learning disabilities, and borderline intellectual functioning only).
  • Licensed optometrists (visual disorders only)
  • Licensed podiatrists (impairments of the foot and ankle only)
  • Licensed or certified speech-language pathologists (speech or language)
  • Licensed audiologists (hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, and balance disorders within the licensed scope of practice – some balance impairments may be out of scope)
  • Licensed Physician Assistants (for impairments within the licensed scope of practice only).
  • Licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM); Nurse Practitioner (NP); Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – for impairments within his or her licensed scope of practice.

💜 What about other practitioners?

Other practitioners may be helpful to your case, but Social Security does not consider these “acceptable medical sources” and you cannot win based solely on these records. Records from these providers are supporting evidence. They are like the icing on the cake. They will help your case. But they are not the cake.

  • Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Chiropractors
  • Counselors
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Naturopaths (unless they are also MDs)
  • All other practitioners

💜 What if my doctor works as part of a team?

Sometimes people work as a team or they are supervised. For example, a therapist might have a supervising psychiatrist who reviews and oversees the treatment. Check your records. Any records that include the “written, typed, or signed name and credentials” of an Acceptable Medical Source are considered Acceptable Medical Source evidence.

💜 Who can fill out forms for me?

One of the best things you can do to help your case is ask your doctor to fill out a function form. However, it can be much (much!) more helpful if these are signed by an Acceptable Medical Source. If your function form is filled out by someone who is not an Acceptable Medical Source, here’s a few things you can do:

  • You can ask them if they have a supervising physician who can co-sign your medical forms. For example, sometimes a counselor or therapist will be supervised by a psychologist or psychiatrist
  • You can ask them if they work on a medical team with someone who can co-sign this form.
  • You can ask them if someone else at their practice can meet with you and do an assessment to fill out this form.
  • You can ask them to fill out the form and then bring it to your own doctor and ask your doc to review it and co-sign it if they agree with it (attach an extra page where your doc can sign)
  • You can ask them to fill out the form and then bring it to your own doctor and ask your doc to review it and write a letter for you that they agree with the medical findings on this form. Attach this as a cover letter to the form before you send it back to Social Security.

💜 What if I have more than one doctor?

If you have more than one doctor, you can have one who is an acceptable medical source and one who is not. As long as both doctor’s write generally similar things about how severe your symptoms are and how disabled you are.

💜 What happens if I have the wrong kind of doctor?

It is extremely important that at least one of your doctors is an Acceptable Medical Source. Ideally, this will be the main doctor that supports your application and is willing to work with you and complete disability paperwork for you.

💜 What do I do if I have a form that is not signed by the right kind of doctor?

If you have a report or form that is not signed by an acceptable medical source, check out: How to Turn Water Into Wine

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