Under Social Security’s rules, chiropractors are not technically deemed “acceptable medical sources.” However, Social Security still considers the opinion of a chiropractor to be “important and should be evaluated on key issues such as impairment severity and functional effects, along with the other relevant evidence in the file.” In fact, “an opinion from a medical source who is not an acceptable medical source may outweigh the opinion of an “acceptable medical source,” in some circumstances, such as when the former “has seen the individual more often than the treating source and has provided better supporting evidence and a better explanation for his or her opinion.”
I represent a truck driver with back problems whose Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claim was approved today after I submitted reports from two chiropractors. The chiropractors had been treating the claimant once or twice each week, and provided detailed reports regarding the claimant’s back condition.
Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) frequently ignore the opinions of chiropractors and other non-acceptable medical sources in their decisions. Because the Social Security rules and regulations require ALJs to consider all opinions, the failure to address a non-acceptable medical source opinion, or even a lay opinion, can provide grounds for reversing an unfavorable decision on appeal.