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A medical source statement can assist a disability application

People in California applying for Social Security disability benefits may want to do everything they can to bolster their applications. A medical source statement is a document created by a physician that helps to show an applicant's medical condition. It includes a number of factors, including the person's diagnosis and his or her capabilities and functional deficits.

A medical source statement contains much of the same information as a residual functional capacity (RFC) form used by the Social Security Administration itself. This form is used to evaluate a claimant's functional capabilities and deficits. Disability examiners complete RFC forms when making determinations on applications for Social Security benefits. These assessments are also made by the staff physicians and psychologists who provide background information to disability examiners for initial evaluations.

The two documents appear to be the same; both traditionally span pages and include check-off lists that rate an applicant's various functional skills. They can include both physical and mental assessments for different disabilities. However, the RFC form used by the disability examiner is supported by a medical consultant who has only read the records submitted with a benefits application. That consultant has not personally examined or interviewed the applicant.

On the other hand, a medical source statement is obtained from the claimant's own physician. It is typically used to present as part of a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge after the application for benefits was denied at an earlier level.

An attorney can help a claimant pursue a successful application for benefits. For example, legal counsel could obtain a medical source statement by contacting the client's treating physician. This is only one of the documents that a representative can help a client to collect in order to present the best case possible at a disability hearing.

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