7th Circuit affirms denial of railroad disability benefits

May 20, 2015

A railroad worker treated in Indiana for years for back injuries and pain failed to convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals he was entitled to federal disability benefits.

The man applied for a disability annuity in 2010 stemming from a 2003 workplace injury while working as a locomotive engineer. The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board denied his application and appeal before a hearing officer.

He had been assigned other jobs after his injury, but he stopped working for the railroad in 2007 and began working as a chauffeur. A hearing officer denied his appeal in an opinion that said there was no evidence of significant motor loss or weakness, and that while the man's pain would prevent him from strenuous labor, it wouldn’t require him to avoid all work.

“In light of the foregoing evidence, Duncan has not met his burden that the Board’s credibility determination is patently wrong,” Judge William J. Bauer wrote for the panel in Adrian C. Duncan Sr. v. United States Railroad Retirement Board, 14-2222. “The Board’s conclusion that Duncan retains the capacity to perform a reduced range of work and that he is not disabled is supported by substantial evidence in the record.”



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