§ 404.1520b - How we consider evidence.
After we review all of the evidence relevant to your claim, we make findings about what the evidence shows.
(a) Complete and consistent evidence. If all of the evidence we receive, including all medical opinion(s), is consistent and there is sufficient evidence for us to determine whether you are disabled, we will make our determination or decision based on that evidence.
(b) Incomplete or inconsistent evidence. In some situations, we may not be able to make our determination or decision because the evidence in your case record is insufficient or inconsistent. We consider evidence to be insufficient when it does not contain all the information we need to make our determination or decision. We consider evidence to be inconsistent when it conflicts with other evidence, contains an internal conflict, is ambiguous, or when the medical evidence does not appear to be based on medically acceptable clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques. If the evidence in your case record is insufficient or inconsistent, we may need to take the additional actions in paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section.
(1) If any of the evidence in your case record, including any medical opinion(s) and prior administrative medical findings, is inconsistent, we will consider the relevant evidence and see if we can determine whether you are disabled based on the evidence we have.
(2) If the evidence is consistent but we have insufficient evidence to determine whether you are disabled, or if after considering the evidence we determine we cannot reach a conclusion about whether you are disabled, we will determine the best way to resolve the inconsistency or insufficiency. The action(s) we take will depend on the nature of the inconsistency or insufficiency. We will try to resolve the inconsistency or insufficiency by taking any one or more of the actions listed in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) through (b)(2)(iv) of this section. We might not take all of the actions listed below. We will consider any additional evidence we receive together with the evidence we already have.
(i) We may recontact your medical source. We may choose not to seek additional evidence or clarification from a medical source if we know from experience that the source either cannot or will not provide the necessary evidence. If we obtain medical evidence over the telephone, we will send the telephone report to the source for review, signature, and return;
(ii) We may request additional existing evidence;
(iii) We may ask you to undergo a consultative examination at our expense (see §§ 404.1517 through 404.1519t); or
(iv) We may ask you or others for more information.
(3) When there are inconsistencies in the evidence that we cannot resolve or when, despite efforts to obtain additional evidence, the evidence is insufficient to determine whether you are disabled, we will make a determination or decision based on the evidence we have.
(c) Evidence that is inherently neither valuable nor persuasive. Paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) apply in claims filed (see § 404.614) on or after March 27, 2017. Because the evidence listed in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of this section is inherently neither valuable nor persuasive to the issue of whether you are disabled or blind under the Act, we will not provide any analysis about how we considered such evidence in our determination or decision, even under § 404.1520c:
(1) Decisions by other governmental agencies and nongovernmental entities. See § 404.1504.
(2) Disability examiner findings. Findings made by a State agency disability examiner made at a previous level of adjudication about a medical issue, vocational issue, or the ultimate determination about whether you are disabled.
(3) Statements on issues reserved to the Commissioner. The statements listed in paragraphs (c)(3)(i) through (c)(3)(viii) of this section would direct our determination or decision that you are or are not disabled or blind within the meaning of the Act, but we are responsible for making the determination or decision about whether you are disabled or blind:
(i) Statements that you are or are not disabled, blind, able to work, or able to perform regular or continuing work;
(ii) Statements about whether or not you have a severe impairment(s);
(iii) Statements about whether or not your impairment(s) meets the duration requirement (see § 404.1509);
(iv) Statements about whether or not your impairment(s) meets or medically equals any listing in the Listing of Impairments in Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
(v) Statements about what your residual functional capacity is using our programmatic terms about the functional exertional levels in Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, Rule 200.00 instead of descriptions about your functional abilities and limitations (see § 404.1545);
(vi) Statements about whether or not your residual functional capacity prevents you from doing past relevant work (see § 404.1560);
(vii) Statements that you do or do not meet the requirements of a medical-vocational rule in Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2; and
(viii) Statements about whether or not your disability continues or ends when we conduct a continuing disability review (see § 404.1594).