Your treating doctor’s opinion of your medical condition and the limitations caused by your illness or injury is very important to winning your social security disability case. Social security law recognizes this fact in requiring social security to thoroughly analyze a treating doctor’s opinion. But this is not the same as requiring social security to simply agree with what the treating doctors have to say about a patient who is seeking disability.
I often talk to Texas social security claimants who have gone through the social security disability process without an attorney and have failed to secure social security disability benefits. I usually ask them why they did not get a lawyer. They typically do not say that they were trying to save money in representing themselves, but often say that, because their doctor “disabled” them, they did not think that they needed an attorney. Doctors also often assume that their opinion will be adopted by social security, and often write their patients a short letter stating that, in their opinion, their patient is “permanently and totally disabled”, and are surprised when such letters do not result in a favorable disability decision. This common and dangerous myth – that a treating doctor’s “disability decision” will be readily accepted by social security – is shared by Texas social security disability claimants and medical professionals alike.
The ultimate decision in a social security disability case – that the claimant is “disabled” under the Social Security Act – is specifically “reserved” to social security. It is not for the doctor to make. The doctor’s opinion on her patient’s medical condition, and the specific functional impairments that those conditions cause, is in most cases deemed to have “controlling weight”. But the determination of whether those functional limitations entitle the claimant to disability benefits under the Social Security Act is for social security alone.
Experienced social security disability representation presents the opinions of medical professional with reference to those areas that social security law deemed the medical to be “expert”, and effectively argues that those limitations render the claimant entitled to disability benefits under the Social Security Act.