Treating Physician’s Unsupported And Contrary Opinion Need Not Be Considered In Social Security Disability Claim

A man applied for Social Security disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under the Social Security Act. The administrative law judge (ALJ) denied his claim, which the district court affirmed. The man appealed arguing that the mental residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment of his treating physician was not properly considered.


The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s order upholding the denial of social security benefits. The court concluded that the appellant’s treating physician’s RFC was unsupported by explanation or medical evidence. The court also noted that it was contradicted by the medical evidence relied upon by the ALJ.


The court held that where a treating physician’s opinion is inconsistent or contrary to the medical evidence as a whole, they are entitled to less weight. Additionally, where a treating physician’s opinion cites no medical evidence, provides little elaboration, and is not supported by any objective testing or reasoning, an ALJ may make a determination based on the medical evidence other than the treating physician’s opinion.


See: Wright v. Astrue, 2012 WL 4840766 (C.A.8 (Mo.), October 12, 2012) (not selected for publication in the Federal Reporter).