ILNews

7th Circuit orders disability case back to administrative law judge

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Because the Social Security Administration Appeals Council did not consider new evidence when it was presented – despite its own regulations requiring it to do so – the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sent a disability insurance benefits case back to the administrative law judge for further proceedings.

At the time of the hearing on Angela Farrell’s application for disability benefits, she was married with two children and extremely overweight. She suffers from multiple issues, including anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and plantar fasciitis. Her initial application was denied, but the appeals council remanded her case for reconsideration. On remand, the administrative law judge again ruled against her, in part because of Farrell’s failure to establish definitively that she suffered from fibromyalgia.  

This time, the appeals council affirmed the ALJ’s decision, despite new evidence before the council that confirmed Farrell’s fibromyalgia. The District Court also affirmed.

In addition to finding the appeals council didn’t follow its own regulations that require it to consider “new and material evidence,” the 7th Circuit found several other aspects of the ALJ’s decision independently require correction, including that the ALJ “failed to grapple properly with the competing medical opinions” in considering Farrell’s application.

Her primary physician, Dr. Sarah Beyer, recorded Farrell suffered from several conditions and alluded to the possibility of Farrell suffering from fibromyalgia. The other physicians who reviewed Farrell’s file as part of the application evaluation process believe that Farrell only had “moderate difficulties” or “mild restrictions on daily activities.” One doctor testified there was no evidence of a confirmed diagnosis of fibromyalgia or anything that would give rise to arthritic pain.

The 7th Circuit concluded in Angela M. Farrell v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, 11-3589,  that the ALJ’s residual functional capacity determination for Farrell improperly discounted Beyer’s medical opinions and that the RFC determination was based on an incomplete assessment of the record.

The judges sent the case back to the ALJ for further proceedings.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT