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I just received an on the record decision from the Portland Hearing Office for one of my clients. An "on the record" decision is a fully favorable decision granting the claim on the record without a hearing.

What is notable about this particular decision is that it was made on the exact same record evaluated by DDS when it denied the claim at Reconsideration. No new evidence had been filed at the hearing level. So a judge reviews the case and sees it as a clear winner, yet DDS denied the claim. What gives?

My view is that DDS does not give the requisite weight to examining and treating doctors' opinions. In this claim, both the consultative exam report and the treating physician assessed limitations that precluded work. While these opinions are not totally ignored by DDS, they are not given the weight to which they are entitled under Social Security's regulations and rulings. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1527 and Social Security Ruling 96-2p

I am not alone in this view. A recent post by Tim Moore, a former disability examiner, states that Social Security rulings are simply not considered by DDS examiners.

The opinions of examining doctors and treating doctors receive much more deference at the hearing level, in my opinion. This is one of the reasons why getting to the hearing level is so important, and why you must appeal the denial of your claim at the initial or reconsideration level.