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Is a physical therapist useful in an SSDI injury claim?

The use and efficacy of physical therapy for various kinds of injuries has grown over the last several decades. As we understand more about how the human body works and the types of harm that can befall it, the use of certain therapies to maintain flexibility and mobility, as well as to treat pain has increased. This is especially true when it comes to those injuries that, as we have mentioned previously, tend to be the most frequent cause for applications for Social Security Disability Insurance, such as back and neck injuries and other connective tissue problems.

So, if a person uses a physical therapist to treat his or her injury, will the therapist's opinion be of any help in an application for SSDI? As usual, the answer is, "maybe." According to the Social Security Administration, a physical therapist is not considered an "acceptable medical source" under the law and regulations with regard to conditions that may be disabling. That's because "accepted medical sources" are licensed physicians who can make medical diagnoses.

However, this does not mean that treatment by a physical therapist, or that therapist's opinion, is useless for an SSDI claim. While a therapist wouldn't be an "accepted medical source," he or she would be considered an "other medical source" for the purposes of an application. The SSA will look at evidence from such a source on a case by case basis, and can take that evidence into account. For example, the therapist may be able to help more specifically define the parameters of the injury and how the applicant is progressing as far as being able to engage in substantial gainful activity. Plus, it is often the case that a therapist will have treated the applicant more often than a doctor, and thus may have insight due to that.

The important thing for New Jersey disability applicants to remember is that the more specific information and evidence one can gather regarding one's condition, the better. Those with questions about filing an application for SSDI due to injury may wish to consider contacting an experienced disability attorney.

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