Why Getting Social Security Disability Got Harder in 2017

Lawyers Explain Why Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits is Harder in 2017

Our experienced Long Beach Social Security Disability lawyers keep abreast of the ongoing changes being made by the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, this year the Social Security Administration has implemented changes that make it much harder to meet their definition of disability, in order to be approved for benefits.

Previously, an opinion issued by an applicant’s personal treating physician was given more weight than that of other doctors and medical providers. That meant that the treating physician’s diagnosis, treatments, etc. were considered more strongly than the opinions of doctors hired by Social Security for consultative examinations.

But now, for any Social Security Disability claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration will no longer give special weight to the opinion of the applicant’s treating physician.

Treating Physician Opinion & Social Security Disability Benefits

Previously the treating doctor’s opinion was given more weight, under the belief that the doctor’s personal, long-term relationship with the patient made them the best source to evaluate the patient’s condition and limitations. Now, alarmingly, the SSA will no longer give “special weight” to the opinion of a treating physician – and will rely equally on doctors with no prior knowledge of the patient’s history.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration also announced that they will also no longer give special weight to the opinions of the Veterans Administration. Previously, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which oversees appeals in California) had directed that “great weight” be given to the opinion of the V.A when it came to service-connected benefits.  But the new changes mean that now VA decisions, and other decisions from differing governmental bodies, will not influence Social Security when it comes to determining disability.

5 Day Rule & Social Security Disability Benefits

A further hurdle implemented in the new Social Security regulations is that, as of May 1 2017,  an applicant is no longer allowed to submit evidence, medical documentation or statements more than five business days before their hearing, unless “good cause” exists. This means that if important medical information, emergency medical services or a change in your treatment has occurred within this five day window, it will not be admissible – unless you can prove “good cause.”

Fortunately, one positive change was made to the Social Security rules this year.  The Social Security Administration will now consider physician’s assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, audiologists, and optometrists as acceptable medical sources. Previously, the opinion of these medical individuals was not considered relevant in Social Security Disability cases.  However, it should be noted that the Social Security Administration still does not consider chiropractors, social workers or registered nurses to be relevant or acceptable medical sources.

 Our Long Beach Social Security Lawyers Can Help

If you are disabled and believe you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, our experienced Long Beach Social Security lawyers will offer you a free consultation. Our lawyers can explain how much you may be able to collect, how long it may take, and the best way to ensure you receive the maximum Social Security Disability benefits for which you qualify.

Free Consultation with Long Beach Social Security Lawyer: 562-622-4800