Monday, June 20, 2016

Recent Connecticut Cases Regarding "The Treating Physician Rule"

The "treating physician rule" is a fundamental principle of Social Security disability law.  According to this rule, if an opinion comes from one of your own doctors, the SSA has to give that medical opinion "controlling weight".  An Administrative Law Judge can only disregard an opinion from a treating physicians if he or she finds that there are "good reasons" to disregard the opinion.
Unfortunately, for the past several years ALJ's in Connecticut have taken the habit of disregarding medical opinions from treating sources for practically any reason.  In fact, it appears that ALJ's have developed boiler plate phrases that they insert in unfavorable decisions when they want to disregard a treating physician's opinion.  
In response to this problem, the Federal Court in Connecticut has issued two recent decisions discussing the treating physician rule. Thornton v. Colvin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15504 (D. Conn. Feb. 9, 2016) and Stango v. Colvin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79096 (D. Conn. Jun, 17, 2016)  These decisions provide an excellent discussion of some of the typical excuses and boiler plate language used by ALJ's to disregard treating doctor's opinions.  Both of these cases provide great ammunition for anyone seeking to obtain a remand in a case where the ALJ gave less that controlling weight to a treating physician's opinion.