Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Partially Favorable” Decisions

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) sometimes approves Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits with an onset date after the one in the claimant’s application. The belated approval is called a partially favorable decision. A claimant can appeal the partially favorable decision, and receive monthly SSD benefits in the interim.

I represent a former interior designer who became disabled in November 2008, and who just received a partially favorable decision from Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) David Nisnewitz that approved SSD benefits as of April 2009. As usual, because all of the treating physicians supported the claimant’s application, Nisnewitz had half a dozen medical and vocational experts testify in order to create evidence to deny the application. However, the last expert to testify was a psychologist named Sharon Grand who stated the claimant met a listing for depression, which prevented the ALJ from denying the case.

As is his custom, ALJ Nisnewitz ignored the overwhelming objective and subjective evidence that supported the claimant’s disability from November 2008 through April 2009. Instead, again as is his practice and pattern, Nisnewitz simply accepted the opinions of medical experts who never examined the claimant over those of the treating physicians, despite the fact that courts have repeatedly told the ALJ that it is improper for him to do so.

Since claimants can receive SSD benefits pending an appeal of a partially favorable decision, there is no reason to waive the additional benefits that they might be entitled to receive. Claimants should promptly appeal such a decision, which could provide additional benefits, such as child’s benefits too.

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