Monday, May 21, 2012

Establishing Mental Disability

A 55 year old woman with PTSD and depression retained me after her application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was denied on the grounds that she could do simple work. The claimant, who had worked for New York City as a clerk and cashier, was approved today without a hearing based on an on-the-record (“OTR”) request I filed in March.

A psychologist from Industrial Medicine Associates (“IMA”) examined the claimant, and his exam report was the basis for the State agency denying the SS application. In connection with the OTR, I obtained reports from both the claimant’s psychologist and psychiatrist, each of which showed that the claimant met the listing for depression.

It appears that submitting reports from both the treating psychologist and psychiatrist was the key. Not only did they corroborate each other and were based on a substantial length of treatment, but they also made the IMA psychologist’s opinion the aberrant one. Accordingly, the treating doctors’ opinions were given great weight, while the IMA psychologist’s opinion was given “limited weight” because it was “not consistent with the treating sources’ assessments.”

Had I merely submitted a report from one of the claimant’s treating sources, it is possible that the claimant would have needed to attend a hearing because then each doctor’s opinion would have been inconsistent with the other.

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