With regard to gathering medical evidence, the National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR) believes that treating sources can and do offer the most informed and accurate information about a claimant and should continue to be given priority. We also believe that eligible treating sources should be expanded to include Physicians’ Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Physical Therapists, and social workers. Currently, the medical evidence from years of treatment with a PA, NP, PT or LCSW often is swept aside, to be replaced by the opinion of a consulting MD who sees the claimant for 30 minutes or less, solely because the primary treating source is not deemed "acceptable." Expanding eligible treating sources would better reflect the realities of health care delivery in the 21st century.
We also note that the move towards electronic medical records has already demonstrated the potential to dramatically reduce SSA’s adjudicative processing times, while ensuring a more complete medical record. NADR recommends that SSA incorporate functional questionnaires (“medical source statements” and “interrogatories” commonly used by representatives) to better obtain the clinical information and restrictions from the treating physicians earlier in the process. NADR would be happy to assist SSA in developing these templates. Finally, we note that claimants' representatives can and do play a key role in assisting SSA in the collection of medical evidence.