Can a treatment Counselor's opinion help my disability claim?

I have talked to someone (he wrote a referral for Zoloft) but the last time I saw him he told me he was just a counselor. Would the word of a counselor, who volunteers at a free clinic, be of any use to my claim?

Any information potentially helps, yes, but SSA gives consideration to "medical evidence". This is why chiropractors records are not obtained since they are not medical professionals (though chiropractors do perform valuable services for many people with musculoskeletal issues). Nurses notes are also not usually obtained.

That said, sometimes records from treatment counselors are obtained even if they are not medical professionals per se. Some counselors hold advanced degrees and some hold bachelor's.

Ideally, however, SSA prefers that records have the signature of a licensed physician. But, as I said, that does not mean that evidence that is not signed off by a physician has no value.

I would say for a disability claim based on mental health, the more information the better. In fact, a counselor may be more likely to provide information about a person's daily activities and functional limitations than an MD or Ph.D.-level pyschologist.

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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