The importance of your doctor’s report
As my Erie, Pittsburgh, and other Pennsylvania clients know, a lot goes into presenting a disability case to the Social Security Administration. However, the most important piece of evidence is frequently your doctor’s opinion about the nature and severity of your impairments (your symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, and what you can still do despite these impairments).
In fact, the Social Security regulations state that your doctor’s opinion may be given “controlling weight” in the case. That means that much of the time the Social Security Administration simply adopts the doctor’s opinion as its own.
However, the Social Security Administration does not give this controlling weight to just any medical practitioner. For the opinion to have this significance in your case the Social Security Administration has three requirements:
- The doctor must be an “acceptable medical source.”
- The doctor must be a “treating source.”
- The opinion must be well supported by medically acceptable techniques.
The doctor must be an “acceptable medical source”
The Social Security Administration categorizes some medical professionals as “acceptable medical sources” and others as merely “other sources.” “Other” medical sources are not given the same weight as “acceptable” medical sources.
Acceptable medical sources are physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors), psychologists, podiatrists, optometrists, and qualified speech-language pathologists. Other medical professionals are “other sources.” These include chiropractors, nurse practitioners, audiologists, and therapists.
The doctor must be a “treating source”
For a doctor’s opinion to qualify for controlling weight with the Social Security Administration, the doctor must be a “treating source.”
That means that the opinion of a doctor that you see only one time, maybe just to get a report to support your disability claim, is not entitled to controlling weight.
The opinion must be well supported by medically acceptable techniques
In addition, to be given controlling weight, the treating doctor’s opinion must be well supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.
A regulation clarifies that “well-supported” by medically acceptable clinical and diagnostic techniques does not necessarily mean that the opinion is “fully supported.” Therefore your doctor’s opinion does not need to be consistent with all other evidence as long as no other substantial evidence contradicts or conflicts with it.
Get a Pennsylvania disability lawyer to work with your Pennsylvania doctor
One of the most valuable ways we help Pennsylvania Social Security disability applicants is by working with their treating doctors to get the necessary medical evidence presented to the Social Security Administration.
If you are not already represented by an Erie, Pittsburgh, or other Pennsylvania disability lawyer and would like our help with your Social Security disability hearing or any other aspect of your claim for benefits, provide a brief description of your claim using the form to your right or contact us at:
Mansmann & Associates
Western Pennsylvania Social Security disability attorneys
1001 State Street
Erie, PA 16501
220 W. Venango Street
Mercer, PA 16137