Because the “weight of medical evidence” often determines the outcome of a Social Security Disability case, and the Federal judges must make findings justifying their decisions, how much weight they give to each doctor is an important component of any “Fully Favorable” or “Unfavorable” opinion.
A recent case out of Washington asks the question, “can a Social Security judge accord little weight to a medical report simply because it was the opinion of a doctor to whom the disabled claimant had been referred by his own lawyer?”
The Washington court said no, stating the “purpose for which medical reports are obtained does not provide a legitimate basis for rejecting them.”
The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that the fact that a doctor’s opinion was requested by claimant’s counsel is not a legitimate basis for rejecting the opinion “in the absence of other evidence to undermine the credibility” of the report.
In other words, according to Herndon disability lawyer Doug Landau, if there is other evidence from treating doctors in the file consistent with the report requested by the claimant’s counsel, its credibility should not be undermined and it should be given the full weight it deserves.
“Often times our clients do not have insurance, have been out of work for a long time, and cannot afford to pay for their medical care needs,” notes Landau. “In such cases, we will often request a report from a medical specialist relevant to their problems. The ABRAMS LANDAU law firm provides this doctor with the relevant medical records, pays for the examination and written report, in order that there will be competent medical evidence in the file. If there is no medical evidence in the file, or only the Social Security Administration’s consultative or examining doctor’s reports, then an unfavorable decision is not only likely, but almost assured.”