Wednesday, May 21, 2014

USDC Reverses ALJ Wolfe

Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Michelle Wolfe is a bad ALJ. Typical comments from those who appeared before her include: “Judge Wolfe should be ashamed of herself;” and “she denies many cases that should be awarded.” Wolfe only approves 18% of the cases she hears, which is less than half compared to the National average of 44%. In fact, 18% is even lower than the approval rates of the Queens Five before Padro was filed.

I represented a claimant before ALJ Wolfe, who said that she was doing me a favor by approving a partially favorable decision. ALJ Wolfe refused to issue a fully favorable opinion because she argued the claimant lacked credibility. I argued to the Appeals Council that the claimant’s 33 year work history created a strong presumption that the claimant is credible, and that he stopped working for the reasons stated in his submissions to the SSA, which "was not overcome by the ALJ cherry picking a couple of snippets from the record that she believed would help support her decision."

As the federal court appeal took place in Pennsylvania, I referred the case to local counsel. Today, I received a copy of the U.S. District Court opinion that outright reversed Wolfe’s decision, which is unusual because favorable relief is usually a remand to the same ALJ. District Judge Malachy Mannion wrote, “In sum, the court agrees with plaintiff that the ALJ “cherry picked” medical evidence to support a finding of not disabled, rather than reviewing and evaluating the objective medical evidence.” The federal court adopted my argument to the Appeals Council, which was that the claimant should have been granted full benefits because he met the mental listings.

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