7th Circuit ‘astonished’ by denial of disability for man in ‘awful shape’

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Judges of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday slapped down the denial of disability benefits for a man they said was among the most severely disabled applicants they had ever seen.

“We can’t figure out what the administrative law judge was thinking when he found that (Michael) Garcia could do construction work as late as 2010,” Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote in reversing the denial of benefits. The panel remanded the matter to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings with a clear message that Garcia’s disability benefits were erroneously denied.

Garcia had been a construction worker until his employer shut down in 2008, according to the record. But Posner recited a litany of Garcia’s medical problems and wrote that those who denied his disability claim overlooked his former employer’s testimony that Garcia’s particular skills and abilities were highly valued, and so he was permitted to take off work two or three days a week on account of his health problems.

“Garcia is, and has been since he applied for disability benefits, in awful shape,” Posner wrote in Michael E. Garcia v. Carolyn W. Colvin, 13-2120. “We are astonished that the administrative law judge, seconded by the district court, should have thought him capable of full-time employment (40 hours a week). The administrative law judge’s opinion is riddled with errors.”

Two doctors – including a Social Security physician – attested that Garcia was incapable of full-time work, and the panel said no weight was given to that testimony even though no contrary evidence was presented.

“Garcia is one of the most seriously disabled applicants for (S)ocial (S)ecurity disability benefits whom we’ve encountered in many years of adjudicating appeals from benefits denials. We are surprised that the Justice Department would defend such a denial,” Posner wrote for the court.



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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.