One issue that comes up often in Social Security Disability appeals is the weight that an administrative law judge gives to the opinion of treating physicians. When a SSDI claim is denied, it goes before an ALJ to determine whether an applicant is entitled to disability benefits. ALJs consider a variety of evidence, and the opinion of an applicant’s treating physician is one of the most important forms of evidence in a disability appeals case.
When an ALJ fails to credit the opinion of an applicant’s treating physician, a case can be appealed to a federal court. One of the most recent disability cases taken to the appellate level involves a woman who challenged the ALJ’s adverse credibility determination of her treating physician.
The court rejected the woman’s appeal and found that the ALJ’s opinion was based on “several valid reasons.” The court also characterized the opinion of the woman’s treating physician as “vague, conclusory, and unsupported.” This unsuccessful appeal highlights the importance of hiring an experienced SSDI attorney early in the process so that you can put your best case forward before your case reaches the appeals level.
There are several restrictions on a SSDI appeal. Generally courts will give deference to the opinion of an ALJ. The scales are tipped in favor of the Social Security Administration’s denial of an appeal, which is why it is important to have an attorney who can successfully point out flaws in an ALJ’s reasoning and the record in a particular case.
Source: US Court of Appeals 8th Cir., “Carter v. Astrue,” Feb. 8, 2012 No. 10-2895