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7th Circuit finds ALJ’s methodology flawed, orders more proceedings

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found an administrative law judge’s opinion denying a man Social Security disability benefits reflects a “flawed evaluation of the record of evidence,” so it ordered more proceedings on the matter.

Kenneth Owen Scrogham sought the disability benefits when he was 53 years old. He said he had to stop working because he had a variety of health problems, mostly leg and back pain. He claimed a variety of medical conditions, including degenerative discs, hypertension and restless leg syndrome, constituted a qualifying disability.

His application was initially denied, and then denied again by an administrative law judge after a hearing. Scrogham sought judicial review of the ALJ’s decision, which the District Court affirmed. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District of Indiana found the ALJ did not err in giving less weight to the opinion of a treating physician than to the opinions of nontreating physicians. She also held the ALJ permissibly found Scrogham not to be credible and the ALJ’s decision was otherwise supported by substantial evidence.

But the 7th Circuit disagreed Wednesday, reversing the District Court’s decision and ordering more proceedings. Judges Kenneth Ripple, Ann Clair Williams and David Hamilton found several flaws in the ALJ’s methodology. The ALJ “impermissibly ignored” a line of evidence demonstrating the progressive nature of Scrogham’s degenerative disc disease and arthritis,
Ripple wrote. It also seems as though the ALJ misapprehended or only partially considered some of the evidence about his daily activities, rehabilitation efforts and physicians’ evaluations.

“This lapse affected both the ALJ’s credibility determination and her residual functional capacity assessment,” Ripple wrote.

“We emphasize, however, that we do not decide here that Mr. Scrogham is entitled to benefits,” he continued. “It may be that he has exaggerated his symptoms or that more in-depth study of his condition would show that he could perform some work. These are issues for the ALJ to decide, using the agency’s expertise.”

The case is Kenneth Owen Scrogham v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, 13-3601.
 

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  1. The is an unsigned editorial masquerading as a news story. Almost everyone quoted was biased in favor of letting all illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. (Ignoring that Obama deported 3.5 million in 8 years). For some reason Obama enforcing part of the immigration laws was O.K. but Trump enforcing additional parts is terrible. I have listed to press conferences and explanations of the Homeland Security memos and I gather from them that less than 1 million will be targeted for deportation, the "dreamers" will be left alone and illegals arriving in the last two years -- especially those arriving very recently -- will be subject to deportation but after the criminals. This will not substantially affect the GDP negatively, especially as it will take place over a number of years. I personally think this is a rational approach to the illegal immigration problem. It may cause Congress to finally pass new immigration laws rationalizing the whole immigration situation.

  2. Mr. Straw, I hope you prevail in the fight. Please show us fellow American's that there is a way to fight the corrupted justice system and make them an example that you and others will not be treated unfairly. I hope you the best and good luck....

  3. @ President Snow - Nah, why try to fix something that ain't broken??? You do make an excellent point. I am sure some Mickey or Minnie Mouse will take Ruckers seat, I wonder how his retirement planning is coming along???

  4. Can someone please explain why Judge Barnes, Judge Mathias and Chief Judge Vaidik thought it was OK to re weigh the evidence blatantly knowing that by doing so was against the rules and went ahead and voted in favor of the father? I would love to ask them WHY??? I would also like to ask the three Supreme Justices why they thought it was OK too.

  5. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

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