I have been suffering from Hypertension, muliple pain syndromes (Fibromyalgia, Multi-Lateral Cervical Stenosis, Degenerative Disk Disease, Femoral and Ulnar neuropathies, Migraines, Sciatica, Bursitus, Osteoarthritis) and Clinical (including SAD) Depression. I went through to a Depression Group and saw a Psychotherapist AND a 9-week Chronic Pain Management Course through my HMO last year. I’ve been on LOADS of drugs, 5 Steroid Epidural injections/year and had so many bad drug reactions I went off a large number of them. Over the past 3 months I have suffered 7 deaths of folks close to me and the Depression, which I thought might have lifted came roaring back. I’m hypersensitive to all these drugs, which make me worse, so 3 mos. ago decided to try Osteopathy and Homeopathy. It’s helped, but the Depression/Anxiety got so bad I decided to return to Prozac. The Osteopath can’t treat me on that drug so I stopped and am trying a homeopathic treatment. QUESTION: I still take pharmacueticals for many things (pain, sleep, Hypertension, etc.), but am taking LOTS of homeopathic remedies now. Will the SSD Administration honor my Doctor of Osteopathy’s report on my Depression and Pain syndromes? I am resuming traditional Psychotherapy and Group concurrently. I don’t want to give up this last hope to feel better, but need the finanancial assistance offered folks like me. Thanks so much!
Jonathan Ginsberg responds: Sue, thanks for your question. It sounds like you have been through quite a bit. I believe that Social Security will consider your homeopathic treatment as "non-standard." As such, an administrative law judge may assign the homeopathic osteopath’s reports less value.
Social Security has extensive rules about how judges are supposed to evaulate evidence – how much weight should the judge give a particular medical report. For example, the reports and conclusions of a treating physician are to be given more weight than the conclusions of a doctor that you saw one time. This is why, by the way, that I encourage my clients with no insurance and limited financial resources to see a doctor regularly, even if "regularly" means once a year. That on-going relationship can help move that doctor into the category of "regular treating physician."
Non-standard practitioners are given very little weight by Social Security. Chiropratctors, for example, are considered non-standard medical providers. That is not to say that your chiropractor’s records will not be read and considered part of your record. However, a judge will not base his decision on the records and conclusions of a chiropractor.
You will face the same issues with a homeopathic practitioner. If there are records in your file from an accepted source (like a medical doctor), those records will be accepted over the conclusions of your osteopath. Furthermore, you may find that some judges are outright hostile towards homeopathy and they could find that you are being non-compliant with recommended treatment.
My purpose here is not to rail against homeopathy or chiropractic. I just want you to understand that at this point Social Security does recognize the legitimacy of these types of treatment and that you could jeopardize your case if you base it on this type of non-traditional care. So, if possible, maintain your contact with and treatment by more traditional health care providers.