Will the SSA consider a chiropractor’s opinion for a back disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) only reviews medical evidence from an “acceptable medical source,” and chiropractors are not among the approved sources of reputable medical data according to SSA standards. This means:


  • The SSA puts no weight on the opinions of chiropractors with regard to disability
  • The disability examiner that reviews your claim for benefits probably will not even request records from your chiropractor

Although the SSA does not review chiropractic records, they will look at x-rays and other diagnostic test results from procedures ordered by your chiropractor. Because most disability examiners do not request records from chiropractors though, you must take steps to ensure they have copies of records that can be beneficial in your claim. These steps include:


  • Obtaining copies of x-rays and other diagnostic test results
  • Dropping off these records at your local SSA office or forwarding them via mail to the disability examiner assigned to your claim.

Many people go straight to a chiropractor for back pain rather than seeking care from a medical doctor (MC). Some see a chiropractor only after their regular MD runs out of options for treating their back pain. Either way, it is important to understand that the SSA will need to see medical records from an MD in order to approve a disability claim.

Most Social Security Disability (SSD) claims that are denied are turned away due to a lack of medical evidence. Gaps in medical records must be addressed if your claim is going to be successful.

If your claim lacks sufficient medical records from an MD, the SSA will try to fill in the gaps in order to make a decision on your eligibility. They will require you to attend an appointment with a consultative physician. This doctor is contracted by the SSA to provide an unbiased evaluation of a patient’s overall condition and functional abilities.

If you receive a notice of a consultative exam (CE), ensure you keep the appointment. Failing to do so will result in a denial of your claim. If there are no other MD records in your claim for benefits, the SSA will use the CE records as an authoritative opinion. In other words, the contracted physician’s opinion can make or break your claim for disability. To build a strong claim for benefits with back pain and to potentially avoid the need for a CE, you should:

  • Schedule an appointment with an MD to have your medical condition documented by a “medically acceptable source”
  • Ensure your MD fully records your:
    • Diagnosis
    • Symptoms
    • Attempted treatments
    • Prognosis
  • Request that your doctor complete a Functional Capacity Report for the SSA, which reports all of your limitations associated with your back pain 

Additional Resources 

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