Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”) is typically treated by a neurologist. When applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits based upon MS it is extremely beneficial to have a well-supported opinion from a neurologist.
I represent a 48 year old who was employed as a food counter clerk and maintenance mechanic before his MS forced him to stop working. The claimant had been treating with a neurologist for his MS for over eight years. During the same time period the claimant also saw his family doctor.
The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) had a neurologist serve as a Medical Expert (“ME) to testify at the claimant’s SSD hearing. In general, an ME is not supposed to be given more weight than a treating doctor. However, the ALJ gave greater weight to the ME than the family doctor, who strongly supported the claimant’s SSD application, because the ME was a specialist. Fortunately, the claimant also supplied records and reports from his neurologist, whose opinion also strongly supported the claimant’s application. The ALJ gave greater weight to the claimant’s neurologist than the ME because the treating neurologist was board certified and had a lengthy and ongoing treating relationship with the claimant.
If the claimant had only submitted his medical records, or had only provided a functional assessment from his family doctor, then the ALJ would have denied the SSD application. Not only is it important to get medical opinions to interpret the treatment records and test reports, but one of those opinions and assessments should come from an appropriate specialist, especially if an ME will testify.Previous Next
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