Social Security Disability Determinations and The Treating Doctor’s Role 

Questions and Answers for Physicians

The Social Security Administration often asks a treating doctor to give information for the applicant’s physical ailments. This memorandum is written about doctors that treat Social Security disability clients in the Milwaukee area in response to requests from the Administration.

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Is it necessary for a patient to get the opinion of a treating doctor to help their Social Security disability claim?

The Social Security Administration requires that the doctor, who is treating the claimant, must provide a detailed overview of the medical impairments the person is suffering from. They will do a thorough investigation, and accurately report to the Administration, the true picture of the person’s health.

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Using medical reports alone is not often an accurate picture of one’s health. These reports are not specifically done for the purpose of the Administration and their needs. A treating doctor, however, is looking for specific things, as per the SSA’s requirements. These doctors bring a unique perspective to the evidence the SSA has. These medical statements made by the treating doctors are given special consideration and often carry more weight than other medical claims. This can be found in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527, SSR 96-2p.

What kind of information is the Social Security Administration looking for from the treating doctor?

Basically, the Social Security Administration wants to know the nature of the condition, its severity, and the level and length of a patient’s injuries. This will include a person’s ability to function, treatment and its affects, and they will give an estimate as to how long the condition is said to last. The SSA will want to know about all the effects and the impairments in one’s ability to function in a work setting. They will also want to know about functioning in daily living activities. This information will help the SSA to draw an accurate conclusion about the claimant severity and their capability to work. For more information, see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1513 and 404.1527, SSRs 96-2p, 96-5p, cf. 99-2p.

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