When proceeding with a Social Security disability claim or appeal, one of the most important considerations moving forward is whether your treating physician understands the seriousness of your medical conditions and the extent to which your problems are impacting your ability to function (both in and out of the home). Ultimately, it’s important that your treatment providers are willing and able to express in a meaningful manner to the Social Security Administration (SSA) he nature and severity of your medical conditions and the extent to which you would be impacted in terms of your ability to function in a work site.
As part of the five (5) step sequential evaluation process, it is first necessary to establish that one is suffering from a medically determinable to severe impairment before SSA will next determine what symptoms could reasonably be expected to follow from such medically determinable impairments. At that point, the Social Security regulations require that the agency determine the persistence and severity of one’s symptoms and the manner in which it impacts one’s ability to function in a work setting. This requires a determination of one’s Residual Functional Capacity, which is defined by the regulations as the most one can do despite their physical and mental limitations.
The Social Security regulations, for claims filed prior to March 27, 2017, provided that treating source opinions (which would include the opinions of one’s medical doctors) would carry controlling weight assuming that the opinions were supported by the not inconsistent with the treatment records of the provider. Amendments made to the Social Security regulations provide that for those claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, controlling weight will not be provided to the opinions of a treating source (such as one’s primary care physician, psychiatrist or surgeon). Rather, their opinions will be evaluated along side those of non-treating sources using the same set of factors that have now been outlines at 20 C.F.R. 1520(c). Medical sources have now been expanded to include that of licensed physician assistants, with respect evaluation of impairments that fall into their licensed scope of practice and for licensed advanced practice nurses, and yet the opinions of your own providers may no longer be presumed to carry more weight than one of Social Security’s providers that may be asked to see you. Continue reading