When people are not able to work, many turn to different assistance programs to survive. In some cases, those people may be eligible to receive disability benefits.
There are certain rules and regulations surrounding Social Security disability that affect people's eligibility. In particular, the evaluation of medical evidence revisions reshapes the way that the courts use medical evidence for disability determinations.
Weight of doctors' opinions
The medical opinion of a treating physician held a good deal of weight under the previous medical evidence evaluation laws. In short, if the applicant was receiving continual care from a physician, or at least saw the physician regularly over a period of time, the court would usually take the physician's disability determination as a credible diagnosis. However, it is important to note that establishing a physician as a treating physician was essential, and the court still had the final say on whether or not to accept the physician's diagnosis.
In 2017, the Social Security Administration made revisions to the process of evaluating medical evidence. These revisions included changes in the following areas:
- Consideration of medical opinions and prior medical findings
- Acceptance of medical sources
- Articulation of different types of evidence
- Rules on medical and psychological consulting
The purpose of these revisions is to encourage objective recording and collecting of medical evidence to ensure proper evaluation and determination for disability. These new regulations apply to disability determinations after March 27, 2017.
What this means
Under the new regulations, the judge or disability examiner considers all medical opinions equally. If a physician's opinion receives extra weight, it is due to the medical evidence supporting the physician's opinion and maintaining a certain level of consistency. Additional weight may also be given if the physician is a specialist in the disability or disease that the applicant has.
This new, revised method of evaluating medical evidence reshapes the influence of treating physicians. However, it is still extremely important for parties to receive appropriate medical attention for their injuries and disabilities.