Joseph Petrylak Comment

Publication Date
February 28, 2013

As a Social Cecurity disability legal practitioner and representative for 29 years, I believe the "Treating Physician Rule" is worth keeping. If anything the policy should change to give more direction on how it should apply in cases before an ALJ. The treating physician of a claimant has the most knowledge and understanding of a cliaimant's underlying medical issues. THe treating physician has treated the client through longitudinal time periods which gives him/her greater understanding of the claimant's ongoing medical issues. Certainly, a one-time CE or a MA at the DDS level or Hearing level can only make a determination upon the medical records in the file. Yet, we all know that physicians do not have the time to place each and every complaint from a claimant's in his/her office notes. Usually, only the most troublesome is listed upon each visit. So, the medical recorfds being reviewed by a CE or MA are not a complete true reflection of a claimant's complete underlying medical issues. Only the treating physician, due to a longitudinal relationship, can put all of the claimant's true medical issues and their effects clearly into the record, whether by narrative or RFC. Hence, this is the reason why giving "great weight" or deference to a treating physician's opinion is necessary. If you do away with the "Treating Physician Rule" you will be giving the same weight to the conclusion of a one time examiner or a MA at DDS as that to a long time treating source of the claimant. Who knows the claimant better than the treating physician. Do we accept the opinion of a stranger the same as we accept the opinion of a friend or colleague? No, of course not, because of the knowledge and trust built in to the friend or colleague over a stranger. This is why the "Treating Physician Rule" needs to stay in place to protect the knowledge of the person who knows the underlying medical issues of the claimant the best. Thank you.