Personal tools

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Case – Treating Source Rule

MPLP Summer 2007 Public Benefits Section Newsletter Article

                Issue 34, Summer 2007

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Case – Treating Source Rule

by Lisa Ruby, MPLP Public Benefits Attorney

The Sixth Circuit has published another case on the Treating Source Rule.  The Treating Source Rule states:

20 CFR 404.1527(d)(2) and 416.927(d)(2)  - Treatment relationship. Generally, we give more weight to opinions from your treating sources, since these sources are likely to be the medical professionals most able to provide a detailed, longitudinal picture of your medical impairment(s) and may bring a unique perspective to the medical evidence that cannot be obtained from the objective medical findings alone or from reports of individual examinations, such as consultative examinations or brief hospitalizations. If we find that a treating source's opinion on the issue(s) of the nature and severity of your impairment(s) is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in your case record, we will give it controlling weight. When we do not give the treating source's opinion controlling weight, we apply the factors listed in paragraphs (d)(2)(i) and (d)(2)(ii) of this section, as well as the factors in paragraphs (d)(3) through (d)(6) of this section in determining the weight to give the opinion. We will always give good reasons in our notice of determination or decision for the weight we give your treating source's opinion.  <>

This means that if your client has an ongoing relationship with a medical provider, the records from that person should be given more weight than that of someone doing a one-time examination.  If the opinion of that person is ignored or disregarded, the judge must give a good reason for doing so.  <>In Bowen v. Commisioner, 473 F3d. 742 ( 6th Cir. 2007), the ALJ failed to mention the expert opinion of the claimant’s treating psychologist.  In remanding the case, the court states:

The key problem with the ALJ’s decision, however, is that it completely fails to acknowledge the expert opinion of Dr. Holean, Bowen’s treating psychologist. Nowhere in the ALJ’s 12-page opinion does the ALJ mention Dr. Holean’s name, the fact that she treated Bowen for over three years, or the fact that she submitted an RFC assessment in this case that corresponds with the severe limitations assessed by Dr. Cohen. Dr. Holean’s opinion is noted only in a long listing of medical records appended to the ALJ’s decision, but any mention of her assessment is totally absent from the decision itself. The judge did not disregard it or find it not credible, it was not mentioned at all in the 12-page opinion. 

Advocates should carefully read disability denials where the claimant has an ongoing treatment relationship.  Disregarding the Treating Source Rule is a common error that will often result in remand of the case.

Public Benefits Section
Next Previous

Return to Front Page


Document Actions