Saturday, February 25, 2012

State Agency Disability Analysts

I filed an application for Social Security Disability ("SSD") benefits for a 49 year old former maintenance mechanic. The State Agency Disability Analyst denied the application after completing a form 4734 "Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment" that indicated the claimant could do light work. Subsequently, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued a fully favorable decision.

In awarding SSD benefits, the ALJ rejected the Disability Analyst's opinion because it was not an acceptable medical source and because SSR 96-6p did not apply. The ALJ was correct that SSR 96-9p did not apply to a Disability Analyst's opinion because the ruling concerns opinions of people who have observed a claimant. The ALJ was also partially correct that a Disability Analyst is not an acceptable medical source. A Disability Analyst does not even qualify as an unacceptable medical source, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, whose opinions have to be given weight under the rules.

The ALJ neglected to mention the primary reason for rejecting the opinion of the Disability Analyst - the September 14, 2010 Memorandum of Acting Associate Chief Administrative Law Judge John P. Costello to all Regional Chief Administrative Law Judges. That Memorandum specifies that a form 4734 completed by a Disability Analyst cannot be considered on appeal, and the form cannot even be evaluated.

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