Charlotte disability attorneys explain how Social Security determines the weight to give your doctor’s medical opinion – Part 2

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In a previous post [10/14/11], we explained that a doctor's opinion must meet three basic criteria in order to be given "controlling" weight: it must come from a medically acceptable source; it must come from a treating doctor; and it must be supported by the medical evidence. Here, we will discuss those criteria in more detail.

Assuming that your doctor is an "acceptable source," then the Social Security decision-maker will consider both the nature of your relationship with your doctor and the quality of the opinion presented in determining the weight to be given to your doctor's opinion. Relevant factors include:

  • The length of time you have treated with the doctor;
  • The number of time you have seen the doctor;
  • Whether the doctor is able to provide details of your impairment over a prolonged and continuous period of time;
  • Whether the doctor is a specialist and, if so, whether the doctor's specialized knowledge and experience are relevant to treating your impairment;
  • The clinical work (examinations and tests) performed and ordered by the doctor;
  • Whether and to what degree the doctor's opinion is supported by the medical evidence in the case, particularly the clinical and diagnostic evidence;
  • Whether the doctor's opinion is consistent with the other evidence in your case; and
  • The quality of the doctor's written opinion - a detailed, well-reasoned, and well supported opinion is valuable and will be given due weight; by comparison, a conclusory statement of opinion (e.g., "It is my opinion the claimant is disabled."), without more, will be given little to no weight.

An experienced Charlotte disability attorney can work with you and your doctors to obtain valuable medical opinion evidence. If you would like to talk with us about your case, you can reach us by phone or email, or by submitting the Free Case Evaluation form on this page.