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Illinois social security disability lawyer proving medical impairmentOne of the basic responsibilities of Social Security when assessing a claim for disability benefits is to consider the effects of an applicant's medical impairments on their ability to work. Even if Social Security ultimately determines the effects do not rise to the level of a legally qualifying disability, the agency must still perform a proper assessment. In other words, Social Security cannot simply ignore a documented medical impairment altogether.

SSA Failed to Consider Effects of Disability Applicant's Edema

Consider this recent decision by a federal judge here in Illinois. The Social Security Administration denied a plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Before an administrative law judge (ALJ), the plaintiff presented medical evidence documenting the following impairments: HIV, obesity, edema, and lymphedema. The latter two refer to excess swelling in the plaintiff's left leg.

In fact, the plaintiff presented an extensive treatment history related to her edema. Basically, the condition requires her to “elevate her left leg throughout the day,” according to court records. Yet during the plaintiff's Social Security hearing, the ALJ never bothered to consider the impact of edema on the plaintiff's ability to work. 

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medical evidence, Social Security disability decisions, Chicago Social Security disability lawyer, disability benefits, disability claimsSocial Security disability decisions are supposed to be based on medical evidence. However, far too often, Social Security officials ignore this evidence in favor of their own preconceived biases towards a disability applicant, especially those suffering from chronic pain. Even worse, officials may try to manipulate the testimony of medical experts to justify their erroneous conclusions.

Court Says Social Security Cannot “Delegate” Credibility Findings to Consulting Doctors

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago recently expressed its exasperation with the Social Security Administration over such practices. The context was a decision to deny disability benefits to a man suffering from congenital spinal stenosis and other serious medical impairments. At a hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ), the applicant presented substantial medical evidence documenting his condition. In brief, the applicant suffers from chronic pain as the result of a degenerative back problem, which has not improved despite undergoing surgery.

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disability benefits, stroke victims, ischemic strokes, Cook County Social Security disability attorney, long-term disabilityAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are a “leading cause of serious long-term disability” in the United States. Each year, the CDC says roughly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke—the vast majority of them for the first time. About 87 percent of all strokes are classified as ischemic strokes, where the “blood flow to the brain is blocked.”

This is what makes strokes so dangerous. Depriving the brain of blood and oxygen for even a few seconds can produce catastrophic consequences. Over time, the lingering after-effects of a stroke can degrade a person's ability to engage in meaningful work. Eventually, the victim may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Court Questions Social Security's Timeline for Stroke Victim's Disability Benefits

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