SSA publishes SSR 06-03p - Considering Opinions and Other Evidence From Sources Who are not Acceptable Medical Sources, 71 Fed.
Pdf is attached.This ruling, which seems to be largely positive, has 2 parts.
Part 1 expands upon 20 CFR 404.1513, 416.913(Medical and other evidence of your impairments) and 20 CFR 404.1527, 416.927 (Evaluating Opinion Evidence) Basically, the SSR emphasizes that, while an impairment must be diagnosed by an "acceptable medical source", evidence from other sources can be used to establish the nature and severity of the impairment (e.g., functional limitations).
The SSR provides some guidelines on how to weigh evidence/opinion from sources that are not acceptable medical sources and seems to give establish a pecking order: medical professionals that are not acceptable medical sources (e.g., nurse practitioners, other clinicians, chiropracters); other professional sources (e.g., teachers, counselors); lay sources.
The SSR seems to recognize that, due to managed care, people often receive much of their care from medical ssources who are not doctors. In fact, depending on the particular facts in a case, and after applying the factors for weighing opinion evidence, an opinion from a medical source who is not an acceptable medical source may outweigh the opinion of an acceptable medical source, including the medical opinion of a treating source, e.g., if he or she has seen the individual more often than the treating source and has provided better supporting evidence and a better explanation for his or her opinion.
Part 2 of the SSR provides that evidence of a disability decision by another governmental or nongovernmental agency cannot be ignored and must be considered. Adjudicators should explain the consideration given to these decisions in the notice of decision for hearing cases and in the case record for initial and reconsideration cases.