Denial of SSI reversed for failure to consider mental health

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A woman who claimed disability in part because of her diminished mental health will get another chance to present her case after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the administrative law judge did not properly consider the opinions and testimony regarding the woman’s mental condition.

Carol Bates applied for Supplemental Security Income following an auto accident that left her with physical and mental impairments and inhibited her ability to work. Her treating psychiatrist diagnosed Bates with bipolar type 2 disorder but noted that medication appeared to be helping.

The ALJ denied her application and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, affirmed. In Carol Bates v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, 12-3359, the 7th Circuit reversed the decision of the District Court and remanded for rehearing.

The 7th Circuit found the ALJ was not “patently wrong” in discrediting Bates’ testimony about the extent of her chronic pain. Although the ALJ disregarded the opinions of two physicians treating Bates in favor of the opinion of the consultative doctor, this was not an error because the ALJ found discrepancies in Bates’ testimony and observed the claimant did not appear to be in pain during the hearing.

However, the ALJ did not provide any sound reasons for giving little weight to the psychiatrist’s opinion which was supported with Bates’ testimony and primary physicians.
“…in this case there was no other medical opinion for the ALJ to fall upon,” Judge Michael Kanne wrote for the court. “The state agency examining and consultative physicians did not examine Bates for psychological illness; at the time they reviewed her record, Bates had only seen a therapist briefly after the death of her fiancé. While Bates did bear the burden of producing evidence of her impairments, if the ALJ thought this evidence insufficient – as she apparently did – it was her responsibility to recognize the need for additional evaluations.”



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.