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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Social Security Is Not Following Their Own Rules For Using Medical Consultants

Posted by John Kuhnlein | May 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

When you apply for Social Security disability, your claim goes for its initial review to an agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS.) The state of Arizona employs the claims examiners at DDS. This is true even though these DDS workers are assigned to review Federal claims. (Why Social Security uses such a system is beyond me.) DDS claims examiners gather your medical records and then send those records to a doctor to review. The doctors who review these records are called Medical Consultants (MCs).

They Are Not Sending Their Best

As you might imagine, DDS is not getting the Dean of Harvard Medical School to be an MC. Most of the physicians doing this are retired or otherwise not actively

Wait, What?

in practice. By itself, this will lower the quality of the medical reviews. It's not uncommon for an MC to have last put a stethoscope to a live patient's chest decades ago.

A New GAO Report

The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, looked into DDS's use of MCs. In a lengthy report, they offered some recommendations to improve the practice. Chief among these was that DDS do a better job of screening their MCs and also giving them better training.  At present, DDS limits their reviews of potential MCs to checking a database of individuals barred from doing business with the Federal government.  Disturbingly, 14 State DDS agencies could not confirm that they took even this basic step. 9 more said they did not provide some element of either basic or refresher training for their MCs.

Understandable, But Not Acceptable

I'm Looking At You

I suspect that it is difficult to find retired doctors to agree to be MCs. For this reason, I can understand why a DDS might cut corners when hiring and/or training MCs. But, the work of the MCs is far too important to allow for any deviation from Social Security policies.

Will Anything Change?

No one can know what, if anything, Social Security will do with the GAO report. Given the overwhelming inertia of such massive bureaucracies as Social Security, a good bet is that nothing will change. 

Harder Than Ever To Get Approved

Virtually all initial applications for Social Security disability are denied. Knowing that DDS agencies are cutting corners and not following Social Security rules helps to explain why. This means that it is harder than it should be to get Social Security disability. If you have been denied and would like to talk about it, please contact me.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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