J. David Black, Virginia and West Virginia Social Security disability lawyer » Monthly Article (April 2012) – Medically Determinable Impairments

A Virginia Disability Attorney Explains How the Social Security Administration Decides if You Have a “Medically Determinable Impairment”

In order for the Social Security Administration to find that you have a “medically determinable impairment,” a doctor must be able to diagnose your condition based on objective indicators. This means the impairment must result from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that are evidenced by medically acceptable clinical and/or laboratory diagnostic techniques. Consistently, your doctor generally may not rely solely on your subjective description of your symptoms to find that you have a “medically determinable impairment.”

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Social Security Administration has identified certain conditions for which subjective descriptions are sufficient evidence to justify a diagnosis of medically determinable impairment. For example, if a doctor is able to rule out competing diagnoses, he or she may diagnose a patient with migraine headaches based solely on the patient’s description of his or her symptoms. If you decide to pursue Social Security disability benefits, your Virginia Social Security disability attorney will advise you whether your condition is one that may be diagnosed based on your subjective reporting of your symptoms.

Who Makes the Final Determination Regarding Whether I am Disabled?

The ultimate decision as to whether you are “disabled” for purposes of disability benefits rests with the Social Security Administration. While your doctor makes a medical diagnosis as to whether you suffer a particular condition(s), the Social Security Administration decides whether a condition qualifies you as disabled and entitled to benefits. In fact, if a doctor offers a conclusion as to whether a patient is “disabled,” the Social Security Administration will give the opinion little to no weight. The only opinion your doctor that is relevant to the Social Security Administration is whether you suffer from an impairment and the extent to which your impairment affects what you are able to do.

For assistance obtaining disability benefits, please contact Virginia Social Security disability attorney J. David Black.