Medical Expert Testimony at Social Security Hearing and Reality

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Joe Di Bartolomeo is a top rated personal injury lawyer helping Oregon and Washington families

At a recent Social Security Disability hearing, a Medical Expert testified about my client's medical condition, and his ability to perform work activity.  There were a couple of things about the testimony that struck me as odd.

First, the Medical Expert was unaware of recent relevant medical treatment. Second, the medical expert seem to hinge his opinion on one medical evaluation that was obviously performed by a physician without the benefit of a clear understanding of my client's medical history. In fact, some major MRI findings were completely disregarded.

What surprised me the most was that the Medical Expert explained that the Nurse Practitioner that had treated my client for years was not qualified to render an opinion about my client's work limitations, which are also known as residual functional capacity. This is completely false, and violates the rules on how medical opinions are evaluated.

When Social Security evaluates medical opinions, there are some specific rules about which opinions are entitled to more weight than others. In determining whether not a Social Security Disability Claimant has a medically determinable impairment, the Social Security Administration will look at Medical Doctor or Psychologist's opinions. However, when determining how much the medical impairment interferes with a Claimant's ability to perform work activity, other medical providers' opinions are as equally compelling. In fact, when a medical provider sees a disability claimant over a long period of time, that person is in a better position to evaluate the overall ability of the patient to perform work activity.

We see situations where examining physicians put themselves in the place of the judge, and when they do so, misstate the law. If you have a Social Security Disability claim, and have questions about which medical opinions you need to prevail on the claim, call us at 503-325-8600. We have over twenty years of experience handling Social Security Disability claims in Oregon and Washington.

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