How Does Social Security Look at the Opinion From My Health-Care Provider? What will my doctor or physicians assistant tell Social Security about my condition? Who can I ask to help me with my disability? Social Security has a list of sources it will consider as “acceptable medical sources” that can help establish a claimant’s disability. These sources are: licensed physicians; licensed or certified psychologist; licensed podiatrist for impairments of the foot and ankle; and qualified speech pathologist for speech impairments only. 20 CFR §404.1513. Please note that this group is very limited. It does not include Doctors of Chiropractic nor does it include your acupuncturist. Social Security is supposed to consider evidence from other sources as well such as; nurse-practitioners; physicians’ assistants; chiropractors; therapists; teachers; welfare agency personnel. 20 CFR §404.1513. This means that opinion from doctors and psychologist will have the most weight. However, an opinion from a nurse-practitioner or physicians’ assistant can help you prove disability as well. The best opinions are from your treating physician and bolstered by evidence in the notes of the secondary sources. If your physicians’ opinions are all favorable, and your secondary sources are also favorable, your credibility as a claimant increases with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Social Security wants the reports from the health-care providers to include the following: medical history; clinical findings; laboratory findings; treatment prescribed with results and prognosis; and a statement of what you can do as a result of the impairment. 20 CFR §404.1513. Therefore, a one sentence conclusory statement from your doctor without history, diagnosis and past treatment that indicated they believe you are disabled is simply not enough to carry much weight. If on the other hand, your treating physicians details what they have treated you for, the past and current diagnosis, what testing has revealed and a statement of your functional limitations, this doesn’t have to be a book, a few well written sentences with the required information is sufficient. Have you asked you health-care provider about whether they believe you are disabled? If not, you should. Their opinion could help Social Security understand your case. However, whereas a good opinion helps your case, a bad opinion can sink your case. So tread carefully.
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