7th Circuit orders agency to reconsider denial of benefits

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Finding the “logical bridge” between evidence and conclusion that is needed to affirm a denial of disability benefits was not “sound” in a case before them, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s affirmation of the denial of a woman’s Social Security disability benefits.

“The logical bridge was not sound here. The ALJ relied on three principal grounds to find that Ms. Beardsley could do light work: (1) her description of her own capabilities and daily activities, (2) the opinion of Dr. Brill, and (3) Ms. Beardsley’s conservative course of treatment, including her decision not to seek surgery. … [N]one of these factors, considered individually or collectively, provides adequate support for the ALJ’s conclusion that Ms. Beardsley could perform work more demanding than sedentary work,” Judge David Hamilton wrote in Cheryl Beardsley v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security

Dr. M. Brill, a Social Security Administration physician, found that applicant Cheryl Beardsley could stand or walk for about six hours out of an eight-hour workday and she could occasionally climb stairs, kneel or do other activities.

Beardsley was 49 at the time she fell and injured her knee. She did not have surgery, but did receive shots for her existing arthritis in that knee. She was also obese. She applied for disability benefits and was evaluated by two agency doctors – Brill, who went by the paper record, and Dr. Larry Banyash, who examined her. Banyash thought she was capable of sedentary work, but based on other factors, would qualify as disabled.

The federal appeals court found the ALJ’s failure to consider evidence that Beardsley was bothered by her knee enough to consider having the operation as well as her concerns about how she would pay for the surgery was a legal error. The record doesn’t support his explanation for discounting Banyash’s opinion, and the judges were troubled by the ALJ’s reliance on Beardsley’s care that she provided for her mother as the main reason to discount the evidence of her physical limitations. Most of what Beardsley did at her mother’s house was sedentary – playing cards, watching television or preparing simple meals.

“These tasks ‘differ dramatically’ from the type of jobs the ALJ believe Ms. Beardsley was capable of performing, and lend no support to the conclusion that she would be able to spend six hours a day, every day, on her feet working.”

The judges sent the case back to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings.



Post a comment to this story

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
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.