How the Social Security Disability Program defines the Treating Physician
I've posted the phrase "treating physician" on this blog a number of times. However, what is a treating physician with respect to social security disability and SSI claims? I actually found a definition posted on the SSA Connect board posted by Olan Barnes, a non-attorney disability claimant's representative handling cases in Michigan. The link to the SSA (social security administration) page that defines this term is below.
However, here's a quick rundown on the definition. A treating physician is someone who either presently, or in the past, has provided medical treatment to a disability claimant in the context of an ongoing relationship.
What this means is that the doctor you may have seen once for a particular condition cannot be considered as a treating physician by either a disability examiner or a disability judge. And, as a consequence of this, the information they provide to social security may not carry as much weight as the information provided by a physician who has, or has had, an established history of providing you medical treatment.
Of course, this goes back to what most claimant's representatives advise their clients to do: continue to receive medical treatment (for the purpose of further developing the medical record).
However, it also touches on something else, something a bit more tactical which is "don't keep bouncing from one doctor to the next, because, in the end, the doctors that you only see once or twice may not be in a position to issue an authoritative statement regarding your functional limitations. In other words, the quality of your medical records can influence the chances of being approved versus denied for social security disability or SSI.
Definition of the Treating Physician
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