Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Medical Listing Opinions

I began representing a 41 year old former road crew worker, who stopped working due to depression, after Binder & Binder refused to appeal his case to federal court. I got the case remanded in federal court for a second hearing before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Seymour Raynor, who approved the application yesterday. The major difference between the two hearings was the addition of a medical opinion explaining that the claimant met the listing for depression.

If the criteria of a “listing” are met the applicant is presumed to be disabled, and no further medical or vocational development is required to approve SSD benefits. In fact, the ALJ had a vocational expert ("VE") ready to testify, but after the medical expert agreed with the treating psychiatrist's letter explaining that the claimant met the listing, the ALJ promptly ended the hearing without hearing from the VE.

It is one thing for an attorney to make the legal argument as to why the medical evidence shows that a claimant meets a listing. It is another thing for a doctor to explain why the medical evidence meets the listing criteria. The latter constitutes medical evidence itself, which cannot simply be ignored under the regulations.

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