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Chicago disability benefits attorney, disability benefits application, disability hearings, disability review process, disability disputeIt often takes multiple rounds of hearings and appeals before Social Security finally grants your application for disability benefits. This extended process is generally the result of agency officials who simply refuse to follow the law—even when they are specifically instructed to do so by a reviewing court. Unfortunately, the time it takes for Social Security to “get it right” is time you are left faced with unpaid bills and no income.

Magistrate Orders Fourth Hearing in Eight-Year-Old Disability Dispute

One of the more egregious cases of Social Security delay we have seen recently is from right here in Illinois. The plaintiff has already had three separate disability hearings before a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ). But because of the ALJ's failures to follow previous remand instructions, a federal magistrate was compelled to order a fourth hearing.

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disability cases, Chicago SSID lawyer, disability claim, Chicago Social Security lawyer, disability applicantMost disability cases involve a person who requires ongoing medical care from one or more highly trained specialists. When it comes to actually assessing your claim for benefits, however, Social Security officials often prefer to rely on the opinions of general practitioners whose only “specialty” is their understanding of disability regulations. In most cases, these “consulting” doctors do not even bother to review all of the disability applicant's medical records. Instead, their primary job is supplying an administrative law judge (ALJ) with the answers they want to hear—namely, that the applicant’s impairments are not that serious and do not constitute a legal disability.

Court Orders New Hearing After Social Security Ignores Credible Medical Testimony

Fortunately, federal judges in Illinois understand the law better than Social Security. Consider this recent decision from a magistrate judge, who ordered Social Security to conduct a new disability hearing for a 63-year-old former crane operator, who has been unable to work since 2013 due to severe back problems. At a hearing before a Social Security ALJ, the applicant presented an extensive medical history, including the expert opinions of his treating physician and an orthopedic surgeon, both of whom found he was medically incapable of working.

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disability benefits, disability applicant, Chicago Social Security disability lawyer, analysis of medical records, chronic painSocial Security often justifies denying disability benefits on the basis of expert testimony from state-agency physicians. These are doctors who do not personally treat a disability applicant. Rather, they are supposed to review all of the relevant medical records and offer an informed analysis to the administrative law judge (ALJ) conducting the disability hearing. What ALJs are not supposed to do is assess the medical evidence themselves, as they are not doctors and may not play one for purposes of a legal proceeding.

Seventh Circuit Renews Criticism of Social Security's Approach to Fibromyalgia Patients

Of course, that does not stop them from trying. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago recently ordered Social Security to conduct a new disability benefits hearing in a case where the ALJ not only played doctor, but also relied on an incomplete analysis of the applicant's medical records. To compound the problems, the applicant's principal disability in this case is fibromyalgia, a severe pain disorder that Social Security often does its best to pretend does not exist.

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