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Social Security Administration changed disability rules

The Social Security Administration issued federal regulations that change its evaluation of medical evidence needed for Social Security disability benefits, which may affect Newark residents. Taking effect on March 27, the rules impose more stringent evidence requirements for proceedings.

The SSA will accept medical evidence for claims submitted after March 27. It will now consider opinions by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, audiologists and physician assistants for disabilities within their licensed practice scope. However, it will not base the existence of an impairment only upon a diagnosis, symptom or medical opinion.

Additionally, SSA must make every reasonable effort to have a qualified physician for physical impairments for physical impairment or psychiatrist or psychologist for mental impairment complete the medical portion of the case review and any assessment of residual functional capacity.

In categorizing evidence, the SSA changed the meaning of the medical opinion that explains what activities a claimant may perform despite their impairment and whether they have at least one impairment that restricts any specified ability. This new definition required a focus upon a medical source's opinion about a claimant's functional abilities and limitations.

Very significantly, the SSA will not give greater weight to the opinion of the physician providing treatment to the claimant. The agency will consider all medical opinions in accordance with criteria contained in their rules. It will also explain how it considered these opinions in their written rulings on the application.

The SSA will not, however, issue any written analysis in its determinations on their consideration of decisions by other government or nongovernment agencies that a claimant has a disability, is blind or is unable to work. These decisions are not considered valuable to the SSA. The agency will continue to consider any medical evidence and other evidence that these other agencies used in reaching their conclusions.

Claimants for SSD benefits should seek legal assistance to deal with these new rule changes which may make it more difficult to meet the requirements for benefits. An attorney can help with these claims and an appeal if a claimant is denied Social Security.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Revisions to rules regarding the evaluation of medical evidence," Accessed April 21, 2017

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