An 49 year old SSDI applicant alleged disability due to anxiety, depression with episodes of suicidal ideation, pain in his left knee and back. The record was replete with evidence of alcohol abuse that seemed to be in remission within the last two years from the date of the disability onset. The ALJ rejected the professional medical opinion of the claimant's treating psychoanalyst about DAA based on the assumption that the psychoanalyst was not an "acceptable medical source" under SSA regulations.
Federal court held that the ALJ failed to evaluate the status of the treating source correctly. The claimant's licensed mental health counselor (under the MA Division of Professional Licensure) was one of the "other licensed or certified individuals with other titles who perform the same function as a school psychologist in a school setting" under 20 C.F.R. 404.1513 (a). As such, the claimant's psychoanalyst was an "acceptable medical source" under SSA regulations whose opinion had to be considered and possibly given controlling weight.
Judge Gertner remanded the case for another hearing and held that the ALJ had an affirmative duty to re-contact the claimant's treating source to resolve any inconsistencies in the medical evidence and appropriately evaluate the treating source professional medical opinion that the claimant's alcohol abuse was not a factor material to the determination of his disability.