Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Remand To A New ALJ

I took over the Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claim for a 40 year old nurse technician with severe physical and mental impairments. After obtaining a remand, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Newton Greenberg denied her claim based upon a medical report from Mohammed Khattak, who was the doctor that examined the claimant for the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).

I advised ALJ Greenberg that the SSA removed Khattak from the panel of doctors allowed to examine claimants because the SSA determined that his reports were improperly unreliable. I further advised the ALJ that as a result of Khattak being kicked off the panel, federal courts had ruled that his medical reports were entitled to no weight. Nonetheless, ALJ Greenberg relied on Khattak’s report to deny the claimant’s application.

When I appealed to the Appeals Council, among other things, I noted that, consistent with his reliance on Khattak’s report, that according to federal court judges, ALJ Greenberg’s decisions “ignored extremely relevant evidence, misrepresented other evidence, and substituted his own judgment for that of medical experts in an analysis that at times tended toward the bizarre;” and selectively relied on facts, improperly picking and choosing only such evidence to support his determination, without considering evidence supporting the claims. The Appeal Council just rejected ALJ Greenberg’s decision, and ordered that the case be assigned to a new ALJ.

Reassignment to another ALJ was a goal of my appeal, which was filed over two years ago. However, it took so long for the Appeals Council to make a decision that ALJ Greenberg died in the interim, and as such, the reassignment order was moot. Nonetheless, if you believe that an ALJ has failed to review your case fairly, one of your remedies is to argue for reassignment.

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