An Oklahoma City disability attorney frequently encounters questions such as the following from physicians treating disability clients.
Is special expertise required in order for a physician to estimate the capacity a patient has to perform work-related activities?
No. Even though an Oklahoma City disability attorney knows that a physician’s expertise is taken into consideration by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when weighing his or her professional opinion, the SSA does not deem it necessary for the physician to possess special training or expertise in order to give a relevant opinion about the patient’s work capacity. The SSA believes the longitudinal perspective a treating physician has developed allows the doctor to render a beneficial contribution to the disability determination process.
Every case is different, but an Oklahoma City disability attorney will advise that a physician who has treated a patient over a long period of time can contribute more valuable information than a specialist the patient has seen only once or twice, particularly if the patient visits the specialist to obtain an evaluation of disability instead of treatment. 20 C.F.R. §404.1527.
Should a physician refer his or her patient for evaluation of functional capacity?
No. An Oklahoma City disability attorney will tell you that the SSA never requests a claimant to obtain an evaluation for functional capacity. Typically, evaluations do not answer the following critical question with any reliability.
What capacity does the patient have to maintain work activities for eight hours each day, five days each week, for fifty weeks each year?
For many claims, an Oklahoma City disability attorney knows that the crucial question at issue is the claimant’s ability to work at an easy job that necessitates the capacity to do the following:
- Spend six hours of a typical eight-hour workday sitting.
- Walk or stand intermittently for two hours every day.
- Lift approximately 10 pounds occasionally, and lift lighter objects frequently.
An Oklahoma City disability lawyer is aware that many capacity evaluations assume the capability to perform sedentary work when higher levels of work exertion cannot be performed. In order to accurately test the capacity of a patient to perform sustained sedentary work, he or she should be observed for two or three weeks in a work simulation. However, as an Oklahoma disability lawyer knows, this would be an expensive undertaking.
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