When Social Security makes its decisions, they decide how much “weight” to give each of your doctors.
Some doctors get a lot of weight. Social Security thinks these doctors are the bees knees.
Some doctors get little or no weight. Social Security cannot be bothered to care too much what these doctors have to say.
Of course what you really want is for your best doctor – the one who understands your impairment the most – to gain the most weight.
If you were sent for an exam with a Consultative Examining Doctor, then very often, you will also want them to give little or no weight to the report by the CE doctor, and to listen to your doctor instead. Those CE doctors can be a handful!
Six Common Ways That Doctors Can Gain Weight
1. Be an acceptable medical source – This is the top of the list. A doc will have a real hard time gaining weight without this.
2. Build up a treating relationship – If your doctor has been seeing you regularly for a long time, that will usually be given more weight than a new doctor or a one-time doctor. See Note Below *
3. Be supportable – If your doctor bases their opinions on medical evidence, Social Security gets real happy about that. Examples of medical evidence for Chronic Fatigue syndrome might include one or more of the following: Blood work, MRIs, function tests, neurological testing, psychiatric testing, cognitive and IQ testing, sleep studies, exercise stress tests, tilt table tests, or trigger point exams. (Don’t worry, you don’t need all that stuff. One or more.)
4. Be internally consistent – If a doctor’s medical records continue to say similar things over time, this looks good. This is especially helpful for function forms. Ideally you would like it if your function form say similar things to what is in the ongoing records.
5. Be externally consistent – If the doctor’s records are similar to other things in your application, this also looks really good. Other things in your application might include: Your application, support letters, records from other doctors, records from case managers or other agencies, statements you make, or outcomes from assessments.
6. Be a Specialist – For example: Rheumatologists, psychologist, psychiatrists, neurologists, orthopedists, oncologists, and so forth.
Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about your disability application and find out exactly what they think. If your doctor has a lot of weight and fully supports your application, things are looking very good right now.
* Note: The regs are changing. If you first filed your application before March 27, 2017, everything above is still true. If you first filed after March 27, 2017, the length of treatment with your doctor be less important in assigning weight. The consistency and supportability of the medical records will be more important.