Acceptable Medical Source

In evaluating a Social Security Disability benefit claim, Social Security will review your medical records acceptable medical sources.

An acceptable medical source is a person or institution that can provide evidence to support the existence of your disability. Such evidence must be in accordance with the Social Security’s guidelines, as set forth in SSA’s publication Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, which is also known as the “Blue Book.” The Blue Book contains information on all of the medical conditions that the Social Security Administration considers as potentially disabling and for which you may receive Social Security Disability benefits. In connection with establishing the existence, duration, and severity of a disabling condition, each listing includes medical evidence that must be submitted to the SSA by an acceptable medical source.

Under Social Security’s guidelines, “Acceptable medical sources” include:

  1. Licensed physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors);
  2. Licensed or certified psychologists. Included are school psychologists, or other licensed or certified individuals with other titles who perform the same function as a school psychologist in a school setting, for purposes of establishing mental retardation, learning disabilities, and borderline intellectual functioning only;
  3. Licensed optometrists, for purposes of establishing visual disorders only (except, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, licensed optometrists, for the measurement of visual acuity and visual fields only). (See paragraph (f) of this section for the evidence needed for statutory blindness);
  4. Licensed podiatrists, for purposes of establishing impairments of the foot, or foot and ankle only, depending on whether the State in which the podiatrist practices permits the practice of podiatry on the foot only, or the foot and ankle; and
  5. Qualified speech-language pathologists, for purposes of establishing speech or language impairments only. For this source, “qualified” means that the speech-language pathologist must be licensed by the State professional licensing agency, or be fully certified by the State education agency in the State in which he or she practices, or hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The Social Security Administration’s “Program Operations Manual System” (POMS), section DI 22505.003, further illustrates the appropriate list of acceptable medical sources. In addition to evidence from the acceptable medical sources listed in DI 22505.003B.1., Social Security may also use evidence from other sources to show the severity of an individual’s impairment(s) and how it affects his or her ability to work or, for a child, the child’s functioning. Other sources include, but are not limited to:

  1. Medical sources not listed in DI 22505.003B.1. (for example, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, naturopaths, chiropractors, audiologists, and therapists);
  2. Educational personnel (for example, school teachers, counselors, early intervention team members, developmental center workers, and daycare center workers);
  3. Public and private social welfare agency personnel; and
  4. Other nonmedical sources (for example, spouses, parents and other caregivers, siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors, and clergy).