This wouldn't excuse Eric Conn, if the allegations against him are true, but does this sound familiar?
- Non-physician disability examiner whose salary is paid by Social Security completes a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. The disability examiner knows that if the claim is denied, whether rightly or wrongly that it is unlikely to be reviewed any further but that if it's allowed, it's going to be reviewed at two different levels. If the reviewers disagree with the allowance, the case is returned to the examiner. Too many returns and the examiner's job is at risk.
- Disability examiner gives the RFC form to a physician whose salary is paid by Social Security.
- The physician receives so many completed RFC forms from disability examiners that he or she has no realistic way of actually reviewing all the medical evidence in each of the cases.
- The physician signs the RFC form after a cursory review of the medical evidence or no review.
- Under Social Security Ruling 96-6p, Social Security's Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) are required to consider the RFC forms generated in this manner because they come from "highly qualified physicians and psychologists who are experts in the evaluation of the medical issues in disability claims."
What is described above is pretty much the norm. I don't think there's any excuse for what Conn is alleged to have done, but how different is it from what Social Security does regularly? And Social Security demands that the "medical opinions" produced in this way be carefully considered. Does Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) want to investigate? Does anyone in Congress want to hold a hearing?