According to an Augusta disability attorney, a treating doctor’s opinion need not be considered controlling for it to be adopted by decision makers in a Social Security disability case. In fact, the SSA typically gives more deference to an opinion that includes an explanation than one that essentially states that a claimant is disabled.
What the SSA Considers
As any experienced Augusta disability attorney can confirm, the SSA evaluates the weight to give to a treating doctor’s opinion, whether controlling or not, by considering the following:
- The treating doctor’s area of specialization;
- How well the treating doctor knows the claimant;
- The extent and nature of the treatment relationship;
- How many times the claimant has seen the treating doctor;
- The consistency of the treating doctor’s opinion with other evidence;
- The degree to which the treating doctor’s opinion is supported by related evidence;
- Whether the treating doctor has developed a detailed understanding of the impairment; and
- The overall quality of the treating doctor’s explanation.
If a claimant is treated by a nurse practitioner and a physician, he should obtain separate opinions from each. Alternatively, he should have the nurse practitioner’s opinion counter-signed by the doctor. Even if the physician only saw the claimant and supervised the nurse practitioner on subsequent visits, his opinion should still be treated as coming from a treating source. A skilled Augusta disability lawyer will ensure that the doctor’s opinion is considered even if the nurse practitioner is the person who typically saw the claimant.
Veterans’ Administration Doctors
Contrary to popular belief, Veterans’ Administration doctors are allowed to complete reports for Social Security disability cases. Such requests must come from the claimant, though. Otherwise, they are valid, and an Augusta disability lawyer can make sure they are included in the case. VA doctors are not allowed to comply with requests that come directly from the Social Security Administration.
Hire an Augusta Disability Attorney
Issues regarding non-controlling doctor’s opinions often arise in Social Security disability cases. Get the skilled representation you need by contacting Wilkinson & Magruder, LLP at 706-737-0771 today.