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7th Circuit ‘astonished’ by denial of disability for man in ‘awful shape’

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Judges of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday slapped down the denial of disability benefits for a man they said was among the most severely disabled applicants they had ever seen.

“We can’t figure out what the administrative law judge was thinking when he found that (Michael) Garcia could do construction work as late as 2010,” Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote in reversing the denial of benefits. The panel remanded the matter to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings with a clear message that Garcia’s disability benefits were erroneously denied.

Garcia had been a construction worker until his employer shut down in 2008, according to the record. But Posner recited a litany of Garcia’s medical problems and wrote that those who denied his disability claim overlooked his former employer’s testimony that Garcia’s particular skills and abilities were highly valued, and so he was permitted to take off work two or three days a week on account of his health problems.

“Garcia is, and has been since he applied for disability benefits, in awful shape,” Posner wrote in Michael E. Garcia v. Carolyn W. Colvin, 13-2120. “We are astonished that the administrative law judge, seconded by the district court, should have thought him capable of full-time employment (40 hours a week). The administrative law judge’s opinion is riddled with errors.”

Two doctors – including a Social Security physician – attested that Garcia was incapable of full-time work, and the panel said no weight was given to that testimony even though no contrary evidence was presented.

“Garcia is one of the most seriously disabled applicants for (S)ocial (S)ecurity 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,” Posner wrote for the court.

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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