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Judges order Social Security Administration to take another look at man’s claim

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the denial of a man’s request for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration because it found the administrative law judge didn’t adequately explain why the man hadn’t met requirements for a presumptive disability.

Charles Kastner worked as a delivery manager in 2004 when he felt a pop in his neck while unloading a heavy refrigerator. His pain increased as the days went on. In addition to this incident, 16 years earlier Kastner had an workplace accident where he fell from a safety ladder which broke while he was standing on it.

Kastner visited several doctors for his pain and mobility issues. He had two surgeries to remove a herniated cervical disc. By March 2007, Kastner’s neuropathic pain had returned and he was referred for chronic pain management.

He applied for disability insurance benefits in June 2006, claiming he couldn’t work due to chronic neck pain. The administrative law judge denied the claim in November 2008, finding Kastner could perform sedentary work. The Appeals Council denied a request for review and the District Court affirmed the ALJ’s decision.

But the 7th Circuit found the ALJ’s decision lacked evidence to support her decision that Kastner’s impairment is considered conclusively disabling. Kastner argued that his condition meets the requirements for disorders of the spine found in the Listing of Impairments. The commissioner for the Social Security Administration advanced several arguments defending the ALJ’s decision, but the agency cites to evidence the ALJ didn’t rely upon, Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote in Charles R. Kastner v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, 11-1166.  

“On appeal, the Commissioner may not generate a novel basis for the ALJ’s determination. To permit meaningful review, the ALJ was obligated to explain sufficiently what she meant by ‘limitation of motion of the spine as anticipated by section 1.04A,’” she wrote.

The 7th Circuit sent the case back to the SSA, encouraging the administrative law judge to consider and account for certain medical evidence along with Kastner’s personal statements about his symptoms.

 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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