The article is the second in the series of articles covering Social Security’s Process Unification Rulings—for more information, contact a Boise Disability Attorney in our office. These are rulings that provide more concrete standards for evaluating your disability claim and contain information you should be familiar with. This article covers SSR 96-2p, which is entitled “Giving Controlling Weight to Treating Source Medical Opinions” and provides your disability attorney with the criteria judges must use to evaluate the opinions of your doctors.
This article should better help you to understand the importance of your medical records and that they contain detail regarding your physical limitations, especially as to sitting, lifting, standing, carrying, fingering and handling that can support your doctors medical opinion regarding your limitations. These are important limitations for any disability claimant to communicate to their doctors.
Over time, Social Security judges developed what became known as the ‘treating physician rule’. Under this rule, your attorney will argue that the judge should give more weight to medical opinions from treating sources than those from non-treating sources. If you would like more information, you can look this law up online at 20 C.F.R. ß 404.1527, and in SSR 96-2p itself. Social Security Ruling 96-2p is significant because it forces judges to take your doctor’s medical opinions seriously. Your attorney should make sure that the judge gives proper respect to your doctor’s opinions.
So it is important that your doctor be willing to provide you with their opinion about your limitations and include your limitations in their notes. Your attorney will send this form to your doctor at the appropriate time. In the meantime, you should keep a journal in between your doctor visits of how you struggle with simple daily activities. Review this journal before each appointment, and then provide your doctor with examples from your everyday life that illustrate your disability, especially concerning your ability to finger, handle, lift, carry, sit, stand and walk. But it is best that you don’t discuss your disability claim with your doctor.
When A Treating Source Statement Is Entitled to Controlling Weight.
If your doctor’s medical opinion is entitled to controlling weight, then the judge must accept the limitations your doctor provides. Otherwise, the judge assigns some lesser weight to the opinion and may or may not accept the limitations as indicated by your doctor. To be given controlling weight, the opinion must (1) come from one of your regular doctors who is a medically acceptable source, (2) be a medical opinion, (3) be well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, and (4) not be inconsistent with other substantial evidence in the record. If you have questions about these factors, ask your disability attorney.
Medical opinions are statements from physicians and psychologists or other acceptable medical sources that reflect judgments about the nature and severity of your impairment(s), including your symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis, what you can still do despite impairment(s), and your physical or mental restrictions (20 C.F.R. ßß 404.1527(a)(2)).
To ensure that there is a sound medical basis for your doctor’s opinion, Social Security requires that the opinion be well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. Your disability attorney should make sure the judge sees these. Medically acceptable means that the clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques that the medical source uses comply with the medical standards that are generally accepted within the medical community as the appropriate techniques to establish the existence and severity of your impairment.
To be well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques does not mean that the opinion must be fully supported. Just because there is some conflicting results in the record will not mean that the medical opinion is not well-supported. But this is a somewhat subjective, and open to the reasonable interpretation of the evidence by the judge. Your disability attorney will help the judge to see all of the evidence that supports your doctor’s opinions.
“Not inconsistent” is a term used to indicate that a well-supported treating source medical opinion need not be supported directly by all of the other evidence (i.e., it does not have to be consistent with all the other evidence) as long as there is no other substantial evidence in the case record that contradicts or conflicts with the opinion. “Not inconsistent with” has a slightly different meaning than “consistent with” because it requires the judge to search the record for inconsistent evidence in order to give the treating source’s opinion less than controlling weight, and not that the opinion only has controlling weight if the record supports it. See Dominguese v. Massanari, 172 F. Supp. 2d 1087 (E. D. Wis. 2001).
Originally posted 2014-05-30 13:30:42.