Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Federal Court Decision

I was retained to file an action in federal court seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits that had been denied by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Robin Arzt. Today, Magistrate Judge (“MJ”) Ronald Ellis recommended that the ALJ’s decision be reversed, and remanded solely for a calculation of SSD benefits. The MJ’s decision is somewhat unusual since a majority of SSD cases are denied, and of those granted, most remand for another hearing before the same ALJ who heard the claim previously.

The claimant’s doctors said the claimant could not do sedentary work. However, ALJ Arzt rejected their opinions’ on the grounds that they supposedly were inconsistent with their clinical notes. MJ Ellis ruled that “it is well-settled that rejecting the opinion of a treating physician solely based on internal inconsistencies is error.” MJ Ellis noted that the treating doctors’ opinions were not contradicted by any other doctor, and that the ALJ had simply substituted her opinion for that of competent medical evidence.

MJ Ellis said that in the absence of contradictory medical evidence, there was no reason to remand the case for another hearing, especially since the claimant had filed for SSD benefits over six years ago. When looking to retain an attorney to handle your SSD case, ask for their experience litigating SSD cases. Understanding the issues that are important in federal court can help secure SSD benefits when the application is pending at Social Security, which can result in benefits being awarded years earlier.

No comments: