Disability denial reversed due to 'fatally weak testimony'

March 14, 2016

 The latest in a string of appeals critical of the denial of Social Security disability benefits resulted in reversal of a ruling against the worker Monday. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held the district court's ruling affirming denial of benefits was “not a reasonable analysis of the plaintiff's claim.”
Paul Dimmett, now 62, applied for disability benefits in 2011 due to chronic breathing difficulties and possible asbestos exposure after working more than 33 years as a sheet metal journeyman.

Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote a nine-page order that remanded the case to the Social Security Administration.. An administrative law judge, magistrate and the district court judge gave little credence  to Dimmett's arguments that he would not be capable of working in a laundry/dry cleaner or as a waiter due to his health issues that also included a heel spur.
Posner wrote the denial of benefits relied too heavily on arguments presented without full knowledge of Dimmett's medical condition. Dimmett was judged capable of working in jobs lacking exposure to fumes, chemicals or humidity, all of which would be present in jobs the agency said he could perform.
“(T)he administrative law judge ignored key medical evidence and the vocational expert ignored the limitations that the administrative law judge placed on the type of job that the plaintiff is able to perform. But there is more to criticize in the handling of this case – there is the rubber stamping of the vocational expert's testimony by the magistrate judge and by the district judge, who upheld the denial of benefits – the district judge without an explanation.”
“And so we have in this case still another example of fatally weak testimony by a vocational expert,” Posner wrote, citing as examples Alaura v. Colvin, 797 F.3d 503, 507–08 (7th Cir. 2015); Browning v.
,766 F.3d 702, 708–12 (7th Cir. 2014); and Hermann v. Social Security Administration, 772
F.3d 1110, 1112–14 (7th Cir. 2014).
“This is not a reasoned analysis of the plaintiff's claim,” the court held in Paul Dimmett v. Carolyn Colvin,
15-2233. "(T)he district judge, in accepting the magistrate judge's recommendation, offered no analysis at all. Neither judge's opinion did justice to the plaintiff's claim.”


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