Monday, March 5, 2012

Retaining Social Security Experts

The Social Security rules and regulations generally require that greater weight be given to treating doctors than to doctors who consult for Social Security. However, in practice, both the State agency, that makes the initial medical decision, and many Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”), ignore the opinions of treating doctors in favor of the Social Security doctors. One way to expedite obtaining a favorable determination is by retaining a doctor who also works for Social Security.

I took over the case of a 48 year old computer supervisor from another attorney. The claimant had stopped working in 2005, and the ALJ scheduled a supplemental hearing so a psychologist could testify as a medical expert (“ME”). Prior to the supplemental hearing, I arranged for a psychologist who also works for Social Security to prepare a report explaining the basis for the claimant’s onset date, which appeared to be the primary reason for the supplemental hearing.

Shortly before the hearing, I was notified that the application was being approved. I received a fully favorable decision today that found the claimant became disabled as of the 2005 onset date. The decision focused on the the report of psychologist, who sometimes provides expert testimony and medical reviews for Social Security, regarding the onset of the claimant's disability. It seems unlikely that the ALJ would have canceled the supplemental hearing if the onset explanation had come from a doctor who did not also work for Social Security.

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