Gordon Gates has a great post tackling Social Security Rulings and how they can be used in a Social Security disability case:
Social Security Rulings are policy interpretations issued by the SSA. Social Security Rulings are binding on all components of the SSA, and are to be relied upon as precedents when adjudicating other cases. See 20 CFR 402.35(b)(1).
The value of the Rulings is that they explain how Social Security is supposed to interpret and apply its own regulations.
These are especially useful when you are writing an appeal and disagree with the Judge on a point of law. If you have a Ruling on your side showing that your interpretation is correct, you are much closer to winning your appeal.
As Gordon mentions, it used to be very difficult to find a Ruling on the topic you needed. But, things have gotten much easier:
Recently, the SSA published a new index of the rulings, grouping them by subject matter.
So for example, if you were looking to see if Social Security has a ruling on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), you choose “Medical” from the index. Then scan the new window … and there it is! SSR 03-02p Evaluating Cases Involving Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Now, you can find out exactly how Social Security is supposed to review this debilitating condition.