Will Social Security Follow The Opinion Of my Doctor And Approve My Disability Claim?

The opinion of a treating doctor is a valued part of the Social Security Disability evaluation process. However, Social Security Disability examiners will not necessarily approve a disability claim on the basis of a treating doctor's opinion alone. There are factors that might affect the relevance of a doctor's opinion when it comes to Social Security Disability determinations.

Firstly, Social Security can accept medical evidence from acceptable medical sources only. Acceptable medical sources are:

A) Licensed osteopathic doctors or medical doctors;

B) Licensed or certified psychologists that might include school psychologists or other licensed or certified professionals who perform the same duties as a school psychologist only for the purposes of establishing learning disorders, borderline mental functioning, and mental retardation;

C) Licensed optometrists only to establish that an individual has a visual disorder;

D) Licensed podiatrists only to establish the fact that an individual has a foot and/or ankle impairment (the state the podiatrist practices in determines if they can do foot only or foot and ankle);

E) Speech - language pathologists who are licensed by the state board of education agency (in the state they practice in) or hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Opinions of these treating medical professionals are helpful to an individual's disability claim. Social Security values their opinions because they may be able to provide a more unique perspective with regard to the medical evidence contained in their treatment notes.

Additionally, treating doctors are more likely to be able to provide a detailed longitudinal assessment of an individual's impairment which cannot be obtained from medical findings, reports of single examinations, or brief visits to the hospital.

In fact, medical reports from treating doctors that provide accurate and adequate medical reports can expedite the processing of a disability claim or at the very least they can possibly reduce or eliminate the need for more medical information.

To be helpful to a disability claim, a treating doctor's statement should make reference to the claimant's medical history, including objective medical evidence such as clinical and laboratory findings, a statement with regard to diagnosis, response to prescribed treatment and prognosis.

So while the opinion of a doctor as to their patient's disability status receives special emphasis from Social Security, it does not make a difference to an individual's disability claim unless other objective medical evidence corroborates the doctor's statement. Consequently, a simple statement by a treating doctor that states the individual is disabled will not help their disability claim.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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