The Social Security Administration just published ruling 16-03p, entitled "Title II and Title XVI: Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims." Here is a link to Ruling 16-03p in the Federal Register. It is effective immediately.
The new ruling supercedes Ruling 96-7p, which was entitled Title II and Title XVI: Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims: Assessing the Credibility of an Individual's Statements." With the new ruling, the claimant's credibility is not considered when evaluating symptoms. That is a remarkable change in policy. I have written before that a claimant's credibility is central to the claim.
This new ruling will have large consequences. The standard ALJ decision denying a disability claim almost always rests on the credibility of the claimant. That language is in the template that they use to draft the decisions. The new ruling requires much more reasoning, much more connecting the dots between symptoms and a claimant's medical record and disability claim record.
On the other hand, the claimant with an excellent work record and high credibility may not get the benefit of the doubt as before. Particularly hurt will be people with sparse medical treatment supporting their claim.
The decisions coming out in the next days, weeks and months may not meet the standard of the new Ruling. Keep the Ruling in mind when writing Appeals Council briefs.