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Will Social Security Ignore My Doctor’s Opinions Regarding My Disability?

 Posted on July 19, 2016 in Already Applied for Disability Benefits

Chicago social security disability lawyersIn a Social Security Disability case, your most important ally is often your treating physician, the person who understands your medical history the best. While a treating physician’s expert opinion is not enough, in and of itself, to qualify you for disability benefits, it is almost impossible to prevail before Social Security without such medical evidence. And even if your doctor can attest as to your medical impairments and how they render you unable to work, Social Security may still choose to ignore that evidence in favor of analysis by doctors who never even examine you at all.

Social Security Ordered to Reconsider Case After Giving “No Weight” to Treating Physician

In any Social Security disability case, state agency doctors will review your medical records and present their analysis to the administrative law judge (ALJ) in charge of deciding the applicant’s claim. It is not uncommon for the state agency doctors to reach a different conclusion about the applicant’s medical condition than his or her treating physician. While the ALJ has the discretion to decide which opinions to accept or reject, Social Security officials cannot simply refuse to consider a treating physician’s opinion just because it happens to conflict with that of the state agency doctor.

Unfortunately, that does not stop Social Security from trying to do just that. In a recent Illinois case, a federal magistrate ordered Social Security to reconsider a disability applicant’s claim after the ALJ “gave no weight” to the expert opinion of the treating physician. The applicant “blew out her knee” several years earlier, causing multiple tears in all of her ligaments. The applicant could not afford to have her knee surgically repaired due to a lack of health insurance. Consequently, she requires a “a walker or mobility scooter for trips longer than 20 steps.” In addition, the applicant testified that she has crippling back pain and limited use of her dominant hand. There was also evidence she suffered from a number of psychiatric impairments, including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although the applicant’s treating physician documents her many medical ailments, the Social Security ALJ assigned to the case decided to simply reject this testimony in favor of the opinions offered by a state agency doctor, who reviewed the applicant’s file and declared she could still perform certain jobs. On appeal, the magistrate agreed with the applicant that the ALJ “appears to have rejected the opinions of [the applicant’s treating physician] merely because they differed from those of the state agency doctors, without explaining why the state agency doctors' opinions were more persuasive or even how they supported the ALJ's conclusions.” This was unacceptable, the magistrate said, especially given the ALJ also failed to explain “how the medical evidence documenting [the applicant’s] numerous physical impairments such as the chronic ACL tear in her left knee” could support the state agency doctor’s conclusion that she was capable of working.

An Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help

Social Security rarely makes things easy for disability applicants. Even armed with unimpeachable medical evidence, a disability claim may still fail the first time. That is why it is important to work with an experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer who understands how Social Security operates and can fight to ensure you are treated fairly. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today if you need to speak with a qualified attorney about your Social Security claim today.



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