Monday, February 22, 2010

Social Security Rulings

A Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) is the Social Security Administration's (“SSA”) interpretation of the Social Security Act and regulations. An SSR is binding on all decision makers in the disability process and is given significant weight by federal court judges. It is important to analyze the SSRs when applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits.

The SSA approved a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”) case today, which can be attributed to SSR 03-2p. The 38 year old SSD claimant had done secretarial work for her father. After the SSA doctor concluded that an examination was needed to determine the claimant’s ability to function, I obtained and submitted a report from the claimant’s family doctor who explained why the claimant was unable to perform sedentary work. Soon thereafter, I secured a report from the claimant’s pain management Physician’s Assistant, who corroborated the opinion of the family doctor.

Ordinarily, the SSA will give little weight to an opinion from a family doctor because he is not considered a specialist, and even less, if any, weight to a Physician’s Assistant. However, SSR 03-2p recognizes that any “evidence from medical practitioners who have provided services to the individual, and who may or may not be ‘acceptable medical sources,’ is often critical in deciding the individual's credibility.” Undoubtedly, the claimant’s application was approved without a hearing based on SSR 03-2p.

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