How Social Security evaluates medical opinions

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2019 | Social Security Disability Insurance

Building your case for Social Security Disability involves putting together various kinds of evidence that convinces the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have a disability that qualifies you for benefits. One way to bolster your claim is to seek a written medical opinion from a doctor. Going to a Michigan physician for an opinion can help the SSA understand your situation, though it is also important to seek an opinion the SSA considers credible and persuasive.

As the SSA website explains, a medical opinion is a statement produced from what the agency considers an acceptable medical source. These opinions are judgments from a physician about how severe your disability is and the nature of your disability. Doctors also express their assessment of the activities you can still perform in spite of your disability, as well as how your impairment restricts you mentally and physically.

It is in the interest of anyone seeking disability benefits to be certain that an opinion acquired by a doctor is of sufficient quality that the SSA will find it persuasive. The SSA website explains the various ways the agency considers a medical opinion. Depending on the doctor who gives the opinion or how the opinion harmonizes with other evidence, the SSA may or may not give the opinion great weight in determining your eligibility for disability.

The relationship the doctor has with you can lend great weight to a medical opinion. It also helps if the doctor is someone you have visited multiple times and if the doctor has treated you for an extended period of time. These factors indicate that the doctor has a good working knowledge of how your disability will affect you for the long term. Other treatment factors include the purpose of your treatments, the types of treatments you receive and the extent of your treatments.

The SSA is also interested in how your medical opinion is supported by other pieces of evidence. An opinion is more likely to be given weight if it is consistent with the evidence presented by medical and nonmedical sources or if the opinion is backed by other supporting opinions and objective medical evidence. You might also consider seeking out a specialist, as the SSA will find an opinion given by someone with advanced medical training and education relating to the issues discussed in the opinion.


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