In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must be able to prove that you have a disability. This will require you to present medical evidence to prove that you are disabled and that you meet the legal qualifications to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Medical Evidence Rules Changed in 2017
Social Security disability claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, are subject to the new medical evidence rules. According to these rules:
- No special consideration will be given to information provided by your treating physician. Prior to March 27, 2017, special weight was given to the opinion of your treating physician because it was presumed that your doctor had a “detailed, longitudinal picture of your medical impairment” that other medical providers who saw you just briefly could not provide. Pursuant to the rule that went into effect on March 27, 2017, information from your treating physician may be considered but it may not be given special weight. Instead, all medical information must be considered with preferential treatment. The change in this rule recognizes that today many people see many different doctors and do not establish a special relationship with one physician.
- No special consideration will be given to information provided by another governmental agency. Prior to March 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration (SSA) could give special consideration to the medical evidence from another governmental agency. For example, some SSA Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) gave substantial weight to a finding of disability made by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The determinations of other government agencies will no longer be given special weight in determining the outcome of a Social Security disability claim.
- There are more acceptable medical sources whose information will be considered. Licensed doctors, psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists, and qualified speech-language pathologists were considered acceptable medical sources prior to March 27, 2017, and continue to be recognized as acceptable medical sources. However, the list of potential acceptable medical sources has been expanded and now also includes physicians assistants, advanced practice registered nurses—such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists—and licensed audiologists. This is meant to include more of the medical professionals that Americans see in the 21st century. However, it still does not include some medical providers such as chiropractors and licensed clinical social workers.
According to the Social Security Administration, these changes in the medical evidence rules will allow the agency to make accurate and consistent decisions on Social Security disability cases.
Make Sure All of Your Medical Evidence Is Considered in Your Social Security Disability Claim
The rules of acceptable medical evidence may have changed. However, a few things remain the same. Specifically, it remains important to get good quality medical care from a reliable and reputable medical provider. This is critical to the accurate diagnosis and treatment of your physical condition and to proving your Social Security disability claim.
Additionally, it remains important to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who knows what evidence is important to your claim and how to present that evidence in a convincing way.
One simple mistake or oversight on your Social Security disability application can result in an unnecessary delay in your receipt of benefits. Likewise, failing to provide the right medical evidence on appeal can result in an unnecessary denial of your benefits.
For these reasons, it remains as important as ever to have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer working with you to make sure that your rights are protected from the time that you file an initial claim right through to when you might need to appeal your claim. Contact us today to learn more about providing the right medical documentation with your claim and to schedule your initial meeting with a Social Security disability lawyer.
We will evaluate your claim and make sure that you present strong medical evidence in a compelling way so that you can begin receiving the monthly Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned.