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Friday, December 20, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, a reversal

In GARCIA v. CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (ND Ind., Rodovich, Magistrate Judge), a 9-page opinion, Judge Posner concludes:

We can’t figure out what the administrative law judge was thinking when he found that Garcia could do construction work as late as 2010. His recitation of the boilerplate cart‐before‐the‐horse credibility formula that we have been ridiculing since well before the opinion in the present case, Bjornson v. Astrue, supra, 671 F.3d at 645–46; see also Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 921–22 (7th Cir. 2010), only deepens our puzzlement.

At the disability hearing the administrative law judge asked the vocational expert about other limitations on ability to work full time that the evidence indicated that Garcia might have, including psychological problems that would preclude his exercising judgment more than occasionally. The vocational expert replied that even simple jobs require a more than occasional exercise of judgment. But having placed such emphasis on Garcia’s ability to stand up, walk in a straight line, etc., the administrative law judge concluded that he was fully capable of doing sedentary work as long as it was simple and repetitive. No evidence supports this conclusion. No physician testified—no medical records revealed—that Garcia has the residual functional capacity ascribed to him by the administrative law judge, who had acknowledged at the disability hearing that a person with the limits described in the medical assessment form that Garcia’s physician had filled out would be unable to perform any paid work on a full‐time basis, let alone work actually available in the economy.

Garcia is one of the most seriously disabled applicants for social security disability benefits whom we’ve encountered in many years of adjudicating appeals from benefits denials. We are surprised that the Justice Department would defend such a denial.

The judgment of the district court is reversed and the case returned to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 20, 2013 01:10 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions