I at times come across clients that are exclusively treating with Chiropractors. Is that a problem for their social security disability case?
Yes, it is.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews evidence and opinions from ‘accepted medical sources’. Prior to March 2017, the accepted medical sources were limited to Physicians (M.D. and D.O.), Licensed Psychologists, Optometrists, and Podiatrists (although there are a few other for special needs). In March 2017, SSA revised the rules on accepted medical sources to now include Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Audiologists, and Physician Assistants (PA) for impairments within their licensed scope of practice. This rule change is certainly beneficial for claimants in rural areas, like areas we serve in Central Pennsylvania.
However, notice what is still not on the list as an accepted medical source? A chiropractor.
So what does that mean for a social security disability applicant?
First, at the application level, social security disability examiners will likely not even review or consider any such medical records, nor will they order any new records from any chiropractic source in evaluation of your initial social security disability application. So, that would mean, that if you are exclusively treating with a chiropractor, you initial application will most likely be denied.
Should your initial application be denied at the office level, you then proceed to the administrative appeal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). How will the ALJ consider medical evidence from a chiropractor? More than likely, the ALJ will review the record, but give little, if any, weight to the medical records and/or opinions provided by a chiropractor. They may review them, in context with other records, to determine severity of symptoms, but it is highly unlikely that any considerable weight will be given as the sole treating source.
Medical records from both a treating doctor and a chiropractor will be considered. Physician records from your family doctor and/or specialist will certainly be given more considerable weight in your case. So if you are treating solely with a chiropractor, we would urge you to also begin treating with a family doctor or specialist. You get one hearing. Always put your best foot forward with the best medical evidence you can get.
Count on Mooney
Our legal team has decades of experience in complex social security disability situations. Not only do we handle appeals if you receive a denial letter, but we can also complete initial applications for social security disability benefits. We stand ready to assist you in your time of need and you know you can Count on Mooney, whatever your legal need.
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