We recently wrote an article for the Legal Intelligencer, Philadelphia’s go-to source for legal news, on Social Security Administration rules and regulations that have recently taken effect and the potential implications for Social Security claimants and representatives.
The article, written by attorney Joseph Silver, entitled “New Rules Pose Hurdles for Disability Claimants” is now live and can be viewed here.
In the article, we highlight a few such new rules perceived to be the most significant for claimants and their representatives. Here is an excerpt, regarding what is known as “The five day rule.”
One of the most significant changes, which countless claimants’ representatives had challenged during the public comment period, relates to the so-called five-day rule. This rule states that claimants and representatives must submit all related evidence, or inform SSA about all available and related evidence, at least five business days prior to a scheduled disability hearing, unless one of a few narrow exceptions apply.
While a number of claimants’ representatives have argued that this rule will make it increasingly difficult to gather a complete evidentiary record, given that many of our clients are indigent, lack working phones and can otherwise be difficult to reach, are often in-and-out of hospitals or other inpatient health care facilities, and given that some health care providers are not always compliant with medical records requests until the very last minute (if at all), an important caveat to this rule is the inform option. This option allows claimants and their representatives to “inform” the ALJ about outstanding evidence at least five business days prior to a scheduled hearing, and then the representative would be considered to be in compliance with the rule.
We then describe changes to what are considered “acceptable medical sources”, whereby:
Under the new medical evidence rules, the list of acceptable medical sources has been expanded to include: advance practice registered nurses (APRNs), licensed audiologists, licensed optometrists and physician assistants (PAs). While this change has been welcomed by many representatives, others have argued that licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) should have also been added to the list of accepted medical sources, as many of our clients rely on social workers to provide mental health treatment.
We further describe the recent abolition of the so-called “treating physician rule,” explaining:
Another troubling development that claimants’ representatives opposed during the public comment period is the abolishment of the treating physician rule. Previously, opinions of a claimant’s treating doctors were to be given additional weight, and in some cases controlling weight, as compared to nontreating medical sources. The new rule affords ALJs more deference to weigh evidence as they see fit. Specifically, starting with claims filed on or after March 27, SSA will no longer give controlling weight to any one class of providers. Instead, ALJs are to weigh medical evidence based on “persuasiveness” and “consistency” with the other medical evidence of record.