Because you are disabled.

File for disability benefits.

Appeal your case.

How you presented your initial application was the best you could do at that time given what you knew and were told.

But, if you were not successful, appeal (1) because you are disabled and (2) because you can improve on your presentation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, scoliosis of the spine.

The claimant was 20 years old when she filed her application.  She saw Social Security consultative examiners, a medical doctor and a psychologist, and the Administrative Law Judge ultimately relied on their opinions.

On appeal the claimant argued, among other issues, that the ALJ erred in not fully evaluating the report and opinion of the consultative psychologist, Dr. Watson, that she saw on behalf of the Legal Aid Society (presumably her representative).  Dr. Watson’s “diagnostic impression was major depression, recurrent, severe with psychotic features, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder.”  The claimant also argued that the ALJ erred in not fully evaluating the reports and opinion of her treating social worker.

The court noted that Social Security rules and regulations do not require the ALJ to explain his reasons for rejecting the opinion of a non-treating source.  Social Security also categories treating sources, such as social workers, as “not an acceptable medical source,” and thus not entitled to the same evaluation as a treating doctor.  See 20 CFR 416.913(a); Social Security Ruling 06-03p.

In affirming the denial of her claim, the court noted that according to the medical evidence the claimant said she had left one position because of lack of transportation, not because of impairments, and that she had continued to look for employment.  The court also noted that when the Social Security consultative psychologist asked her why she could not work, “she was unable to state any reason.”


1.  Explaining why you cannot work is an essential part of your disability application.

2.  SSR 06-03p states:

“[The] regulations provide specific criteria for evaluating medical opinions from ‘acceptable medical sources’; however, they do not explicitly address how to consider relevant opinions and other evidence from ‘other sources’ listed in 20 CFR 404.1513(d) and 416.913(d). With the growth of managed health care in recent years and the emphasis on containing medical costs, medical sources who are not ‘acceptable medical sources,’ such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and licensed clinical social workers, have increasingly assumed a greater percentage of the treatment and evaluation functions previously handled primarily by physicians and psychologists. Opinions from these medical sources, who are not technically deemed ‘acceptable medical sources’ under our rules, are important and should be evaluated on key issues such as impairment severity and functional effects, along with the other relevant evidence in the file.”
The regulations do not require adjudicators to treat the opinions of these treating medical professionals in the same manner as those of the “acceptable medical sources.”

Howlett v. Commissioner of Social Security, Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-744-DW (D. W.D. Kentucky, Louisville, Jan. 30, 2014).

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