Friday, March 30, 2012

Physician Specialty

Adjudicating disability claims frequently boils down to determining how much weight to provide to the opinions in the medical record.  I represent a 59 year old truck driver with a compression fracture in his lumbar spine whose disability application was approved after highlighting the credentials of the two treating specialists.

The first treating physician is a spine specialist.  I pointed out that he was graduated from a prestigious medical school, and then completed his is residency and fellowship in orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgical spine surgery.  I also noted that the spine specialist currently teaches orthopedics at a prestigious medical school.

The other treating physician is a rheumatologist who has been listed in Newsday, New York Magazine, and the Castle Connolly guides as one of the New York areas’ best Rheumatologists.  I commented that he has been Chief of Rheumatology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center; teaches at local medical schools; and was also graduated and conducted post-graduate work at prestigious medical schools.

Both treating doctors provided reports supporting the claimant’s disability.  However, disability claim adjudicators do not always accept the opinions of claimants’ doctors.  In light of the claimant’s back impairment, and his doctors’ credentials, it would have been difficult to justify rejecting the treating doctors’ opinions.  The claimant’s application was approved because his doctors’ opinions were deemed “more consistent with the record as a whole.”

Highlighting the treating physicians’ credentials should usually be done, especially since the credentials of the doctors hired by insurance companies or government agencies are rarely as good.

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