You know that the decision of an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) is poor when the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) refuses to defend it. I represent a claimant whose social security disability (“SSD”) application was denied by ALJ Patrick Kilgannon. I appealed the denial to federal court, and today, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt reversed ALJ Kilgannon’s decision. (see Staib v. Colvin)
Judge Spatt stated that this was “a unique case” because even the SSA argued that the ALJ’s decision could not be defended. ALJ Kilgannon stated he would admit evidence the claimant submitted, but failed to review and admit them. ALJ Kilgannon failed to develop the record by rejecting the claimant’s onset date for lack of treatment records while never seeking to obtain them or indicating they were relevant. The Appeals Council also failed to consider evidence the claimant submitted after the hearing.
Discussing ALJ Kilgannon’s decision, Judge Spatt explained that, “the Court cannot engage in any meaningful analysis of whether he correctly applied the treating physician rule, whether his decision is supported by substantial evidence, or whether he properly weighed the Plaintiff’s credibility." ALJ Kilgannon’s decision “was so deficient and flawed” that Judge Spatt ruled it denied the claimant a full and fair hearing. Therefore, Judge Spatt did not even feel the need to address the claimant’s substantive arguments.