When the SSA reviews your initial disability claim, it obtains your medical records, and determines your residual functional capacity after analyzing those records. The problem with this approach is that the SSA does not obtain your doctor's opinion about your limitations. Rather, the SSA reviews your medical records and makes its own determination.
However, a doctor's treatment notes are intended to manage a patient's medical care, not to establish the functional limitations that Social Security uses to evaluate a claimant's ability to work. As a result, the method used by Social Security to evaluate claims often results in a denial of the initial claim for disability benefits, because often your functional limitations usually are not clear from a review of your medical records.
To remedy this situation, it is very important to obtain your doctor's opinion regarding your physical and/or mental limitations, and how those limitations affect your ability to work. A medical source statement from your doctor setting forth your limitations due to your impairments is usually the most powerful medical evidence in support of your disability claim.
In general, an administrative law judge will give greater weight to the opinion of a treating physician, as opposed to a doctor who examined the claimant just one time, or never at all. However, a judge is not obligated to accept the opinion of a treating physician. Rather, the judge must consider several factors when evaluating a treating medical source opinion. See 20 CFR 404.1527(c).