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Home » Glossary » Treating Source

Definition of Treating Source

To make a disability determination for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review a claimant's medical records from all of their relevant treating sources. According to the SSA, a treating source "is any acceptable medical source including all licensed physicians (medical and osteopathic doctors, including psychiatrists), psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists and speech-language pathologists."

Medical records reviewed by the SSA can include the patient's medical history, clinical and laboratory findings, diagnoses, treatment history, the claimant's prognosis of outcome and statement of residual function, which details the claimant's ability to complete specific mental and physical work-related activities.

Medical records are only requested from treating sources if the claimant meets the nonmedical requirements for SSDI or SSI and their case has been sent to the Disability Determination Services office for a medical review.

Some claimants complain that the SSA gives more weight to the consultative examiner's opinion rather than the claimant's treating source. If this happens it's important to talk to a disability lawyer. The SSA has stated in their SSA literature that they are supposed to give more deference to a treating source's medical opinion, and they are not allowed to "substitute their own judgment for the opinion of a treating source on the issue(s) of the nature and severity of an impairment when the treating source has offered a medical opinion that is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with other substantial evidence."

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