Medical Opinions In Social Security Cases

Social Security Judges are asked to consider many opinions when evaluating a claimant’s disability status.  However, not all opinions are acceptable medical sources.  Medical doctors or doctor of osteopathic medicine are acceptable medical sources.  Psychologists, podiatrist, and optometrist are also acceptable medical sources.  Other practitioners such as chiropractors, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists do not carry the same weight as acceptable medical sources. These professionals offer opinions that will be considered by the Judge but their opinions can be given “controlling weight” by the Law Judge.

In order for a medical opinion to be given controlling weight, it must not only be provided by an acceptable medical source but the provider must also be what is known as a “treating source.”  A treating source simply refers to a doctor who is being consulted for the purpose of providing medical care as opposed to providing medical records to be used in litigation or in support of a Social Security claim.

A consultative physician who examined for SSA or an independent medical examiner that might exam in a Workers’ Compensation case would not be considered treating sources.  Their opinions can be considered by the Judge but they cannot be given controlling weight.

If you have questions regarding a Social Security Disability issue, please feel free to contact our office.