Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – New Social Security Ruling Regarding Evaluation of Symptoms

A new ruling has been published by the Social Security Administration (SSA) affecting claimants seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA published SSR 16-3p – “Evaluation of Symptoms and Disability Claims” meant to supersede SSR 96-7p. The primary change in the new ruling is that it does not contain the word “credibility,” except to state that the agency is limiting the use of that term. SSR 96-7p used the word credibility or credible more than fifty times and the agency’s decision to change focus of the ruling from credibility to evaluating “statements regarding intensity, persistence, and limiting effect of symptoms.” The SSA notes that the adjective “credible” is problematic because the evaluation of the claimant’s subjective symptoms is not an examination of the claimant’s character. The new ruling states that “adjudicators will not assess an individual’s overall character or truthfulness in the manner typically used during an adversarial court litigation.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, the focus of evaluation of an individual’s symptoms “should not be to determine whether he or she is a truthful person…” The thrust of the new ruling is that adjudicators consider all evidence in a claimant’s record when evaluating intensity and persistence of symptoms after finding that the individual has a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce those symptoms. The evaluation leads to a determination as to how the symptoms limit the individual’s ability to perform work-related functions. The new ruling directs adjudicators to explain fully their reasoning and no longer to offer vague and unsupported statements like “I find the claimant to be not entirely credible.”

If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website.




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