Changed Approach to Evidence in Social Security Disability Cases

There have been some changes in the Social Security Disability regulations that have affected the ways in which the review of the issue of Social Security Disability is conducted.

In years past, according to both Social Security Regulation and according to Federal District Court determinations in the Western states associated with the 9th Circuit, the opinion of a treating physician or psychiatrist was to be given special consideration and attention.  In some cases, the opinion of a treating source was deemed to be a “controlling” opinion, meaning the Judge or Adjudicator at Social Security could be essentially bound by the opinion of a treating doctor.

The change in Social Security Regulations is such that the Social Security Administration is going to likely give less and less credence to the opinions of the treating doctors and more and more attention to the opinions of their “in-house” non-examining medical reviewers.

This is most discouraging for those who handle Social Security Disability cases on appeal as we believe that the doctor who has been treating you is in the best position to address what limitations you might have from the condition they are treating you for.

It appears that Social Security is going to look more at the consistency at which you have seen your doctors, so seeing your doctor and cooperating with treatment efforts are critical factors.

It will be equally important that you never have significant gaps in the treatment notes.  If you have not seen your treating doctor for even 4 months, Social Security will not look favorably upon that situation.  In their minds, if you are disabled, you will be doing all you can to treat that disabling condition.

This is particularly true for chronic conditions such as Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Chronic Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Low back or Cervical conditions, even when surgery has been done and failed.

Stay in contact with your doctor, follow their advise and take medications as prescribed.  Do not stop medications without talking to your doctor and having them put into the medical chart the problems with a medication and the alternative treatment that you are changed to at that time.