Physicians, and other acceptable medical sources, are qualified as experts in matters
pertaining to medicine and the evaluation of impairments. However, “disability,” as
defined by the Social Security Act, encompasses not only the medical factors of impairment,
but also the consideration of such nonmedical factors as age, education, past work
experience, and daily activities.
Occasionally, a physician or other acceptable medical source may include conclusions
or opinions in the medical records regarding the individual's abilities. When medical
sources make statements about issues that are reserved to the Commissioner, regarding
an individual’s abilities, such as “totally and permanently disabled”, “unable to
work”, or “cannot return to any work”, the rationale must explain whether medical
and nonmedical evidence substantiates these opinions. This explanation must describe
any relevant program provisions such as work incentives, and relate them directly
to the adjudicator’s conclusions.