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7th Circuit orders agency to reconsider denial of benefits

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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
13-3609.

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.


 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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