CAN AN ALJ RELY ON HIS OWN OPINION WHEN DETERMINING MEDICAL MATTERS THAT AFFECT MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIM?
This was a issue that came up in one of our Tampa, Florida cases recently when an ALJ denied benefits and relied on his own opinion rather than the opinions of a treating physician. The rule is that an ALJ cannot rely on his own opinion or even a (non-medical) lay opinion regarding medical matters. This sword cuts both ways though. It also means that the claimant must have medical evidence to support his or her claim. Without medical evidence there is no case really unless the SSA sends a claimant out for a “Consultative Evaluation” by a physician on their list.