7th Circuit orders agency to reconsider denial of benefits

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Finding the “logical bridge” between evidence and conclusion that is needed to affirm a denial of disability benefits was not “sound” in a case before them, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s affirmation of the denial of a woman’s Social Security disability benefits.

“The logical bridge was not sound here. The ALJ relied on three principal grounds to find that Ms. Beardsley could do light work: (1) her description of her own capabilities and daily activities, (2) the opinion of Dr. Brill, and (3) Ms. Beardsley’s conservative course of treatment, including her decision not to seek surgery. … [N]one of these factors, considered individually or collectively, provides adequate support for the ALJ’s conclusion that Ms. Beardsley could perform work more demanding than sedentary work,” Judge David Hamilton wrote in Cheryl Beardsley v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security

Dr. M. Brill, a Social Security Administration physician, found that applicant Cheryl Beardsley could stand or walk for about six hours out of an eight-hour workday and she could occasionally climb stairs, kneel or do other activities.

Beardsley was 49 at the time she fell and injured her knee. She did not have surgery, but did receive shots for her existing arthritis in that knee. She was also obese. She applied for disability benefits and was evaluated by two agency doctors – Brill, who went by the paper record, and Dr. Larry Banyash, who examined her. Banyash thought she was capable of sedentary work, but based on other factors, would qualify as disabled.

The federal appeals court found the ALJ’s failure to consider evidence that Beardsley was bothered by her knee enough to consider having the operation as well as her concerns about how she would pay for the surgery was a legal error. The record doesn’t support his explanation for discounting Banyash’s opinion, and the judges were troubled by the ALJ’s reliance on Beardsley’s care that she provided for her mother as the main reason to discount the evidence of her physical limitations. Most of what Beardsley did at her mother’s house was sedentary – playing cards, watching television or preparing simple meals.

“These tasks ‘differ dramatically’ from the type of jobs the ALJ believe Ms. Beardsley was capable of performing, and lend no support to the conclusion that she would be able to spend six hours a day, every day, on her feet working.”

The judges sent the case back to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.