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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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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