Physicians & Treating Sources
Arkansas Physician Evaluation for Disability Claim
As the treating physician, you are in the best position to know and evaluate your patient’s impairments and give your opinion as to whether or to what extent those impairments limit their capacity to do work like activities. For this reason, your opinion is often given controlling weight. We understand and respect your right to not provide your opinion about your patient’s impairments. It is totally your option. However, if you would like to provide your objective opinion, it is of great value in helping with a proper determination of eligibility for SSD, SSI or Veteran’s benefits under the law. The Courts are glad to receive it and there will not be any further obligation on your part. Your objective opinion is what we ask.
Claimants are hard pressed to afford even basic medical treatment when they are unable to work and uninsured. If they are determined to be eligible for SSD benefits will receive Medicare benefits two years and five months from the onset of their disabilities. Claimants who are eligible to receive SSI benefits are eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. As you know, these programs provide the medical assistance that disabled clients so badly need but cannot afford on their own.
As a physician, you can help the courts arrive at an accurate determine of your client’s physical and mental impairments by giving your objective opinion. The Social Security Administration has physicians on staff that will review the medical records and give an opinion as to the claimants abilities based upon their review of the records without ever having seen the claimant. Sometimes the Social Security Administration will send a claimant to a physician for a one-time examination. Both of these medical opinions are less than optimum because they are based upon either a one-time examination or no examination.
Unless the claimant’s treating physician gives their own opinion there is no contravening evidence in the case and the claim is decided based upon the opinion of the Social Security physician’s opinion. For these reasons, the Courts have recognized that the claimant’s treating physician is in the best position to know the claimant’s limitations and therefore the claimant’s physician’s opinion, if there is one, carries the greatest weight.
As stated in the Social Security Regulations, the impairment must be medically determinable. A claimant’s statements about symptoms are never enough to show disability. The impairment or combination of impairments must be shown to result from anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormalities which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, including medical evidence of symptoms, signs and laboratory findings. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1508, 1512, 1513; 416.908, 912, 913.
For your opinion to carry controlling weight it should:
- Be written in your chart notes or in a separate residual functional capacity (RFC) form. You may print the form under the Physician Form tab of this site and fax it to our office. Or you may call 501-327-7000 or email our office to request a form from our office geared to a mental impairment or a more specific physical impairment.
- Be objective and not conclusive. The Courts would rather have your opinion on how long a person can sit/stand/walk and the amount of weight her or she could reasonably lift through the day. This is more helpful than conclusions that a patient, for example, can or cannot work. These conclusions are the purview of the judge who has all of the laws, regulations and evidence from various sources before him or her. The forms that we provide to you can be specifically geared to the claimant’s impairment. If you ask, we will send it to you.
- Be supported by objective medical evidence or tests or lab results. It is very helpful for you to include a sentence stating what objective findings support your conclusions. The objective findings of treating physicians are appreciated by the courts and given great weight.
As the Court stated in Hogan v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 958, 961 (8th Cir.2001): “A treating physician’s opinion is due ‘controlling weight’ if that opinion is ‘well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in the record.'”
Contact Fritzie Moore Vammen, Attorney at Law, P.A.
If you have any questions about physicians and treating sources for disability claims, or if you would like to refer a patient to our Conway, Arkansas, law firm, please call 501-327-7000.