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 test, blood work, or an assessment by a specialist. For mental health, it can also be ongoing documentation of what your doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist writes that they are observing during your office visits. Below you will find:
Tests for all conditions:
- Information about testing
- Paying for testing
- Neuropsychological Testing
- Brain Scans
- Medical Signs & Clinical Observations
- Mental Health Documentation
- Functional Capacity Evaluations
Tests for specific conditions:
- ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Mental Health
- Mold Exposure
- Other Illnesses
HOW TO GET TESTED
What Tests Should I Get?
Talk with your doctor about what tests would be best for you. You can also keep reading this page for specific tests recommended by our readers with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Mental illness, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, Medication injury, Environmental Illness, and Mold or neurotoxic exposure.
Extremely Important for All Tests
Do not rely on the doctors hired by Social Security or your Disability insurance company. Select your own doctor and arrange your own testing.
How Many Tests Do I Need
Ideally, you would like to have at least one test with abnormal results for each condition you have been diagnosed with. More tests are always good. But it’s better not to spend all your time, energy and money on testing. Save up some of your time, energy and money for other things you will need to help your application: How Many Medical Tests Do I Need?
Paying for Testing
In some cases, you may be able to get free testing by enrolling in a Vocational Rehabilitation program. They will sometimes perform free testing in physical abilities, cognitive abilities, and employment skills. In some cases, it may be possible to find: Free or Cheap Bloodwork. If you cannot afford the doctor: When You Can’t Afford the Doctor
TESTS FOR ALL TYPES OF CONDITIONS
If you are having difficulties with memory, focus, or concentration, a neuropsychological evaluation may be helpful to you. This kind of test can be used for any physical or mental condition including: Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Mental illness, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, Medication injury, Environmental Illness, Mold or neurotoxic exposure, Traumatic Brian Injury, or side effects from medications. How to Get Neuropsychological Testing
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 QEEG Brain Mapping
Medical Signs & Clinical Observations
This is not a specific test, but it still counts as medical evidence! It can be just as helpful as a test! Medical signs and clinical observations are things that your doctor personally sees while meeting with you. Things you tell your doctor about do not count. Here’s some Examples of Medical signs and here’s Acacia’s story about Clinical Observations
Mental Health Documentation
No matter what condition you are applying for, including mental health documentation can be critical for your application. Many people intensely dislike including mental health. Unfortunately, leaving out mental health can significantly worsen your chances of getting approved: How to Include Mental Health
Functional Capacity Evaluations
This is a test of your ability to function physically. We have heard mixed reports about this kind of testing. Some readers report being sent for these evaluations by worker’s comp or private disability insurance, who use these reports as a way to deny benefits. Other people went out and paid for their own Functional Capacity Evaluations and had very positive experiences.
If you get this kind of test, keep in mind that a physical therapist is not considered an “Acceptable Medical Source” by Social Security. Records from a physical therapist will still be considered, but may not be as helpful. It may help if you can get a physical therapist’s report co-signed: How to Get a Co-Sign
TESTS FOR SPECIFIC 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. Social Security will also consider other tests not listed in the ruling. Mental health can also be very important to your disability claim. It may be the difference between getting approved and getting denied. Tests from The Social Security Ruling of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A CPET is a test sometimes used by people applying for disability with ME/CFS. It can be expensive and far away and has a few other drawbacks, so it’s not a good match in all cases. It is most commonly used by people applying for disability through private insurance through their employer: How to Get a CPET (maybe)
Many people who are approved for mental illness do not go for formal testing. Instead, they are approved through their intake paperwork at mental health programs, records from hospitalizations (if any) and ongoing doctor’s chart notes (ongoing regular visits with a psychologist or psychiatrist can be especially helpful). You can also ask your doctor if they can refer you for any kinds of psychological or psychiatric testing: How to Document Mental Health for a Disability Application
Most people with Lyme disease don’t get approved for Lyme disease. They get approved for other related conditions. There’s no way to know if Lyme testing will make any difference in your case or will be considered. What Tests Should I Get if I have Chronic Lyme Disease?
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. How to Apply for Disability for POTS
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. Here’s where you can find worksheets and forms your doctor can fill out to document your condition: How to Apply for Disability for Fibromyalgia
Veronica has some good advice on testing on this page: How I Got Approved for Disability for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
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. Try talking with your doctor, looking through this page, and checking out this fantastic list from Surviving Toxic Mold with information on other conditions people with mold exposure might get approved for. One type of brain scan sometimes used by mold survivors is called a Neuroquant.
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.
What Test 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.
💮 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability
💮 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.
💮 If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: