In May of 2015 a national publication of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) published the MM&A case involving a District Court’s reversal for violating the “Treating Physician Rule”:
The district court remanded the case because the ALJ failed to follow the treating physician rule by not providing “clearly sufficient reasons for only affording ‘some weight’ to the treating physicians’ opinions….” The ALJ did not provide good reasons “or in fact any reason for the weight he assigns” the opinions. In his decision, the ALJ only stated that he “gave consideration” and “some weight” to the opinions. The error was not harmless as neither treating doctor’s opinion was “patently deficient” nor was there discussion elsewhere in the ALJ’s decision where he made clear the basis for rejecting the opinions. The defendant argued that it was reasonable for the ALJ to not include the treating doctor’s limitation of poor ability to maintain concentration for two hour segments because the ALJ was more restrictive in other areas of functioning. “[T]his argument is not well-taken.” To find harmless error, all of the treating physician’s opinion must be adopted. “Limiting someone to jobs that do not require strict production quotas does not fully address the issue of poor concentration.” “Piecemeal adoption” of the treating doctor’s opinion does not constitute harmless error. “Harmless error is not available when an ALJ finds limitations less severe than those described by the treating physician.” Margolius, Margolius and Associates, Cleveland, OH, represented the plaintiff.