Saturday, July 22, 2006

Will Federal Reviewing Officials make a difference in the Social Security Disability SSI system ?

You have to wonder about this, and on many levels. I'm thinking this will be a multi-part post about the projected efficacy of FROs (federal reviewing officials -- these are the new "cogs" in the disability evaluation system who will replace reconsideration-level examiners beginning in August, 2006 in the SSA Boston region, which is, essentially, New England) since there are many issues to consider.

Unfortunately, though, this is all a shot in the dark since no one really knows how well the DSI (disability service improvement) initiative will go (or not)...or even if DSI will survive at all, meaning:

1. It could be a disaster like HPI and get scrapped.

2. The outcome of congressional and presidential elections may turn back the clock on this experiment (pure conjecture on my part, but anything is possible).

To start, I should reference an interesting post at SSA Connect. Here's a quote from a thread:

"I think it will be an advantage having an attorney review at an earlier stage. DDS hardly ever gives the treating physician opinion as much credit as it deserves. They almost always follow what the CE says regardless of the treating physician opinion."

You know, it's just my opinion, but I don't think this would have much of an impact unless FROs decided to start sending RFC forms to treating physicians. In only a small percentage of cases do you actually seem to find any assertion in a physician's records as to residual functional capacity, or even find data that sufficiently supports a functional assessment. Doctors write their records for them, not for later reviewers in other capacities.

Even when a claimant exhorts a TP to provide a statement, they typically get back something on the order of "patient is unable to return to..." which is generally useless.

A non-DDS RFC/Medical source statement "directs" the TP to provide usable information---but you only get one of these when an attorney or non-attorney rep has obtained one (often with considerable difficulty) for use at a hearing. Unless FROs send these out themselves, it doesn't seem likely that they'll be well-armed in this regard. To reference a treating physician's "opinion" you have to be able to find one in the first place.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts:
Working while collecting Social Security Disability or SSI - It may not be worth it
Social Security Disability SSI Degenerative Disc Disease and Back pain
Applying for disability
Social security disability appeal
Disability MS


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