The Importance of Objective Evidence in Your Disability Claim

Most disability insurance policies do not explicitly require that a claimant provide objective evidence to support their disability. Yet, it is all too common when a claimant receives a denial letter in the mail from their insurance company claiming that disability benefits have been denied due to a lack of objective evidence. Unfortunately, many courts have determined that insurance companies are permitted to rely upon objective evidence when making a determination of disability.

Objective medical evidence is documentation from tests including but not limited to: medical resonance imaging (MRIs), x-rays, blood tests and other chemical tests, electrophysiological studies (electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, etc.), and psychological tests. Unfortunately, not all medical conditions are detected in these various types of objective testing, which can put some disability claimants in a challenging condition. For example, someone with fibromyalgia may not be able to produce traditional objective medical evidence of their condition. For more information about fibromyalgia, see this entry: Fibromyalgia Disability Claims.

In order to improve the chances of being approved for disability insurance benefits, a claimant should make sure that their treating providers have ordered all of the necessary tests to properly diagnose their condition. Without objective documentation, the insurance company is much more likely to deny benefits. For example, a claimant with Multiple Sclerosis should undergo any applicable testing, like an MRI of the brain, a spinal tap, and tests measuring electrical activity in the brain. For more information about Multiple Sclerosis, see this entry: Multiple Sclerosis Disability Claims.

Another difficult symptom to diagnose is impaired cognitive functioning. Most insurance companies do not accept a claimant’s self-report of memory loss or the inability to concentrate. Therefore, it is essential for the claimant to speak with their treating physicians about their problems and if possible, undergo neurological testing, psychological testing, or a mental status examination. These types of tests can help provide the insurance company with information describing the severity of the claimant’s cognitive impairments.

Recurrent migraine headaches are another condition that may not appear on objective testing. However, this condition can be recorded in a symptoms log. When a claimant experiences a painful event like a migraine, it is not always feasible to immediately see the doctor or seek treatment at an Emergency Room. Nonetheless, the claimant should keep a migraine headaches log to document the frequency, severity, and duration of their migraine headaches. For a good example of a migraine headaches log, please see the following chart at WebMd’s website. The claimant should also provide this completed symptoms log to their treating physician and ask that the symptoms log be added to their medical records. This will allow the treating physician to view the claimant’s symptoms and understand the severity of their condition.

Once the claimant has done their best to obtain as much objective evidence to document their disability, they may want to consider having their physician complete a detailed treating source statement. As discussed in previous entries, a treating source statement is important for both disability insurance claims and Social Security disability claims. If the treating physician cites to supportive objective evidence and carefully describes the claimant’s condition, then there is a better chance that the insurance company will approve your disability claim.

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The O’Ryan Law Firm handles short term disability claims, long term disability claims, and Social Security disability claims. If your benefits have been denied, please contact the O’Ryan Law Firm today so that we may investigate the denial of your disability benefits.