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Significant Social Security Disability Cases

Federal Court Decisions

When a case is rejected at each appellate level of the Social Security Administration, it is sometimes appealed into the federal court system for judicial review. The following are brief summaries of some of the significant cases handled by the Social Security disability lawyers at our firm over the years.

In Weldon v. Astrue, Case #10C6326, Northern District of Illinois, Judge Darrah reversed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and ordered a new hearing. The ALJ had already held two hearings on the subject of whether the claimant’s seizure disorder was of disabling severity. It was held that the ALJ had to provide more consideration and weight to the report of the treating neurologist. It was further ruled that the ALJ’s decision was unsupported by substantial evidence as to whether the frequency of the seizures satisfied the legal requirements of the social security regulations.

In re: Y.C. In this April 2010 decision, the Appeals Council reversed the adverse decision of an Administrative Law Judge and awarded benefits. The Claimant in this case had not worked since the mid 1990’s and her coverage for Social Security disability lapsed as of December 31, 2001. The Judge found that she could still do light work as of the time she was last covered for benefits. Under the law, a 55 year old person with the capacity to do light work would have been approved and awarded benefits. The Claimant was four months short of her 55th birthday at the time her coverage lapsed. The Judge refused to apply the applicable Social Security Rule in a flexible and non-mechanical fashion. On appeal, the Appeals Council reversed and found the Claimant entitled to benefits based upon the “non-mechanical” application of the above rule.

In re: D. G. In February 2009 the Appeals Council reversed an adverse decision of an Administrative Law Judge and approved benefits. The Claimant suffered from a lower back problem which limited her ability to walk, stand or sit. The Judge failed to consider the Claimant’s obesity as an exacerbative factor on the degenerative joint and osteoarthritic changes in the lower back. She did not discuss all of the evidence presented to her which had been favorable to the Claimant. The Appeals Council reversed the Judge which resulted in a 30 month award of past due benefits.

In re: H. P. This case was originally filed in July 2003. The Claimant had been denied in two separate decisions. Each time the case was appealed by our office and remanded by the Appeals Council for a new hearing. The disability was based upon low back pain and depression. After a third hearing denial (before a different Administrative Law Judge), the Appeals Council denied the appeal. A Federal Court appeal was then filed. Our office negotiated with the Social Security attorney to have the case sent back for a fourth hearing. The Judge was instructed to better consider the combined affects of the Claimant’s depression and low back pain.

Myles v. Astrue, Case Number 08-2908

This case was handled by our office through the United Stated District Court. The Claimant suffers from Type II Diabetes which produced fatigue, urinary frequency and neuropathic pain. The Judge did not analyze favorable evidence in connection with her illness and limitations. It was ruled that he “played doctor” and reached his own independent medical conclusion and selectively reviewed the medical evidence. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals remanded the case for a new hearing to correct these errors and to give the Claimant another opportunity to prove her case.

Flores v. Massanari,Case Number 00-4334 (unreported)

In this 2001 case, the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that the Social Security Judge did not give sufficient consideration to the side effects of the medications taken by the claimant and remanded (ordered a new hearing) the case to the SSA.

Willis v. Apfel, 116 F Supp 2nd 971 (ND, Ill., 2000)

United States District Court remanded this claim due to Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) failure to adequately explain his conclusion to deny disability benefits. The case was additionally remanded for a new hearing to consider new evidence of the Claimant’s knee problems.

3. Aidinovski v. Apfel, 27 F Supp 2nd 1097 (ND, Ill., 1998)

Case remanded for a new hearing due to ALJ’s failure to adequately account for the Claimant’s fibromyalgia. The ALJ failed to adequately consider the Claimant’s credibility and the reports of her doctors.

4. Iwachniuk v. Chater, 926 F Supp 753 (ND, Ill., 1996)

Social Security Administration ordered to award disability benefits to Claimant who had residual functional capacity limitations resulting from impaired intellectual capabilities and dependent personality disorder. The ALJ’s decision to reject findings of examining psychologists was not supported by substantial evidence.

5. Thompson v. Sullivan, 933 F 2nd 581 (7th Cir., 1991)

The case involved a disability Claimant who appeared at hearing without an attorney. The Administrative Law Judge did not adequately explain the Claimant’s right to an attorney and did not completely develop the Administrative Record for the unrepresented Claimant. The case was reversed and remanded for a new hearing by the Court of Appeals.

6. Miyoshi v. Bowen, 696 F Supp 346 (ND, Ill., 1988)

Social Security Administration ordered by District Court to award disability benefits to the Claimant. The ALJ’s finding that the Claimant did not suffer from disabling headaches was unsupported by substantial evidence. Case confirmed that headaches could be disabling under the Social Security and SSI laws.

7. Banks v. Bowen, 672 F Supp 310 (ND, Ill., 1987)

Decision of Social Security Administration to deny disability benefits was overturned and the case was remanded for a new hearing. The ALJ was required to explain why favorable medical evidence was rejected. ALJ was directed to obtain additional evidence as to the Claimant’s arthritis.

8. Scott v. Heckler, 768 F 2nd 172 (7th Cir., 1985)

Award of benefits by Administrative Law Judge was reversed on own motion review by the Appeals Council. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Appeals Council did not have grounds for reviewing the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and ordered an award of benefits.

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