How SSA evaluates medical opinions

An important question the Social Security Administration (SSA) seeks to answer when evaluating you is, “How much do your symptoms reduce your ability to work?”

SSA will look first to your treating doctor for an answer to this question.  The key factors SSA uses in weighing medical opinions are:

  •  If your treating doctor’s opinion on the nature and severity of your impairments is well-supported by the medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in the case record, SSA will give it controlling weight.   That means it is decisive on the issues of the nature and severity of the impairments.
  • When SSA does not give your treating physician’s opinion on the nature and severity of the impairments controlling weight, SSA will look to:
    • Length of your treatment and frequency of examination
    • Amount of supporting evidence
    • Consistency with the medical record
    • Whether your doctor is a specialist

It is hard for a Social Security disability judge to reject the opinion of your treating doctor when it is consistent with your allegations and the other evidence in the record. Consistency and credibility are key issues in any disability case … especially those involving pain.