Thursday, May 3, 2012

Corroboration is not Superfluous

Getting more than one doctor to provide reports that explain why a disability claimant cannot work is not gratuitous.  Certainly, the confirming opinion is not redundant if the doctors practice different specialties.  Having multiple supporting opinions should be considered a necessity when seeking disability benefits since individual opinions are usually analyzed to see if they are consistent with the record as a whole.

I represent a 41 year old laborer seeking Social Security Disability benefits.  In order to succeed, he needed to demonstrate that he was unable to do sedentary work on a sustained basis.  The claimant’s orthopedist concluded the claimant was temporarily disabled, and then referred the claimant to a knee specialist when a knee replacement was needed.  According to the claimant’s orthopedic knee specialist, the claimant lacked a sedentary work capacity because of his knee problems.  That opinion then was corroborated by the claimant’s physiatrist.  

The Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”) gave more weight to the treating doctors’ opinions than the State agency opinions because the former were “more consistent with the record as a whole.”  Had there only been one supporting opinion, then the ALJ could have denied the claim on the grounds that the State agency medical opinions were more consistent. 

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