In a recent ruling, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Social Security regulations in 2017 eliminated the treating physician rule. The treating physician rule allowed the adjudicator to weigh medical opinions based on the extent of the doctor’s relationship with the claimant. The opinion of a medical source who treated and evaluated the claimant was provided more weight and a medical source who did not treat or evaluate the claimant was given less weight. To read the full opinion, please click here.
The new regulations apply to claims filed on or after March 27, 2017. Under the new regulation, no special weight is afforded to the opinions of a treating physician. Rather, the most important factors the Social Security Administration will consider in evaluating medical opinions are their supportability with the medical evidence and the consistency with evidence from other medical sources.
The claimant’s relationship with his or her doctor is still relevant when assessing the persuasiveness of the source’s opinion. The ALJ can still consider the length of the relationship, the frequency of examinations, and the extent of the examinations.
Even under the new regulations, the ALJ cannot reject a treating doctor’s opinion without providing an explanation supported by substantial evidence. If a treating physician provides an opinion that is well supported by the evidence and consistent with other treaters, it should be thoroughly considered by the ALJ.
At the LaPorte Law Firm, our attorneys monitor all regulations and case law that will affect our claimants. We will continue to advocate for our clients within the regulations and case law that affects their claims.