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Monday, March 14, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, re SSA disability denial, with a reversal

In Paul Dimmett v. Carolyn Colvin (SD Ind., Young), a 9-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

The plaintiff, who is now 62 years old, applied in 2011 to the Social Security Administration for disability benefits. He claimed to be disabled from any gainful employment by a combination of ailments including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asbestosis, and a heel spur in his right foot. Turned down by the administrative law judge who heard his case, and then by the Social Security Appeals Council (which declined to review the administrative law judge’s decision), he appealed to the district court, also without success; for on the recommendation of the magistrate judge to whom the district judge had referred the case, the district judge affirmed the denial of benefits without discussion, precipitating this appeal, which highlights several important recurring issues in the disability program. * * *

So: the administrative law judge ignored key medical evidence and the vocational expert ignored the limitations that the administrative law judge placed on the type of job that the plaintiff is able to perform. But there is more to criticize in the handling of this case—there is the rubber stamping of the vocational expert’s testimony by the magistrate judge and by the district judge, who upheld the denial of disability benefits—the district judge without an explanation.

Here is the critical portion of the magistrate judge’s opinion * * *

This is not a reasoned analysis of the plaintiff’s claim (notice for example the blind reliance on the vocational expert’s hamstrung testimony)—and the district judge, in accepting the magistrate judge’s recommendation, offered no analysis at all. Neither judge’s opinion did justice to the plaintiff’s claim.

The judgment of the district court is reversed with instructions to remand the case to the Social Security Administration. REVERSED AND REMANDED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 14, 2016 05:40 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions