What is Non-Medical Evidence and How is it Considered in a Social Security Disability Claim?

Social Security considers “evidence” to be anything submitted to your claim file related to your disability claim, including medical and non-medical evidence. Having medical evidence is critical to proving your disability claim and, in fact, you must first have medical evidence from an acceptable medical source to establish you have a medically determinable impairment (MDI). After an MDI is established, Social Security considers all evidence to assess how a person’s impairments affects functioning and determine disability. Non-medical evidence is simply defined as any evidence that is not medical. Submitting non-medical evidence in your disability claim helps present a more complete picture of how your impairments and symptoms affect your daily functioning. In this article, we discuss several types of non-medical evidence and how it can help your disability claim. To read a blog article about medical evidence go here.

Non-Medical Evidence on Disability Checklists

Listed in the Social Security Adult Disability Checklist and Online Adult Disability Checklist is non-medical evidence, including general information about your age, your marital status, and your minor children. Also, listed is information about employment history going as far back as 15 years. Some evidence, such as the credits you have earned to be insured for SSDI, is necessary to prove you meet technical requirements. If you are applying for SSI, your income and resources will determine if you meet the strict requirements of this needs-based program. The Social Security field office is responsible for verifying technical eligibility requirements before they send the claim to the Disability Determination Services for adjudication.

Non-Medical Evidence You Provide

Statements you provide about your impairments and symptoms and how they affect your daily functioning are important non-medical evidence. You may complete a SSA-3373 Adult Function Report to describe your day-to-day functioning. You may also keep a journal or other personal record to describe your physical and mental impairments, related symptoms, and how they affect your ability to do ordinary daily activities. For example, you can record the frequency epileptic seizures that you have. Keeping a personal record helps you build a stronger disability case since it is a real-time description of what you have been experiencing. You can refer to it to help you remember accurately when it is time to testify at a hearing. In fact, this personal record may be submitted to your claim file as non-medical evidence.

Non-Medical Evidence from Third Parties

Third parties who may provide non-medical evidence in your claim include family members, friends, caregivers, neighbors, clergy, social workers, and even former supervisors and co-workers. The best evidence from third party sources comes from those who are close to you and can best describe your limitations due to your impairments. You may ask one or more of these non-medical sources to write a letter or testify on your behalf at your hearing about what they have witnessed regarding your impairments, symptoms and limitations in functioning. Social Security may ask at least one of these sources complete a SSA-3380 Third Party Function Report to obtain this non-medical evidence. Third-party evidence, particularly when it is consistent with the medical and other evidence, supports your claim of disability.

Evidence Relating to Symptoms

Social Security considers all of the evidence in the claim file when evaluating the intensity and persistence of symptoms after finding that the individual has an MDI that could reasonably be expected to produce those symptoms. See Social Security Ruling 16-3p Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims. A person’s own statements about their symptoms is considered along with other non-medical and medical evidence using the following factors:

  1. Daily activities;
  2. Location, duration, frequency, and intensity of pain or other symptoms;
  3. Factors that precipitate and aggravate the symptoms;
  4. Type, dosage, effectiveness, and side-effects of medication(s) taken to alleviate pain or other symptoms;
  5. Treatment, other than medication, a person receives or has received for relief of pain or other symptoms;
  6. Any measures other than treatment a person uses or has used to relieve pain or other symptoms (e.g., lying flat on his or her back, standing for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or sleeping on a board); and
  7. Any other factors concerning a person’s functional limitations and restrictions due to pain or other symptoms.

Non-medical statements from you and third parties can be very persuasive in describing the limiting effects of symptoms.

Contact a Disability Lawyer for Help

If you need help proving you are disabled, contact a disability lawyer at Cardea Law Group, LLC for a free initial consultation. When we represent you, we will work with you to complete the application for disability and other necessary forms, as well as help you obtain the medical and non-medical evidence you need to prove your claim. We show our commitment by providing you with information, guidance, and support at every step.  Call us at 334-440-6261.