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How Are Disability Cases Handled if There Is a Lack of Medical Evidence?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

IL disability attorneyFor those who have suffered an injury, illness, or another type of physical or mental condition that has affected their ability to work, Social Security disability benefits can be crucial for ensuring that they can meet their ongoing needs. To receive Social Security disability, a person will need to show that they have experienced impairments that have affected their ability to work and earn an income. In many cases, disability benefits will be denied, but these denials must be based on valid evidence, including medical records and testimony from medical experts and vocational experts. In these cases, applicants may be unsure about their options, especially if their claims are based primarily on their own testimony regarding their condition rather than relying on medical evidence.

Magistrate Reverses Denial of Benefits Based on an Improper Consideration of Plaintiff’s Testimony

Ideally, disability applicants will want to have as much evidence as possible to show that they are disabled. However, in cases where there is a lack of medical evidence, certain procedures should be followed to obtain and explore the relevant facts of the case. This was illustrated in a recent Illinois case, Jennifer L. K. v. Commissioner of Social Security.

The plaintiff in this case was a 56-year-old woman who had sustained an injury to both of her thumbs after falling on ice. She suffered from arthritis and received a surgical procedure, after which she struggled with moving her hands and fingers and grasping objects. At an evidentiary hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that the plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as an eyewear salesperson while being limited to frequent “handling and fingering.”

Upon review of the case in the U.S. District Court, the magistrate stated that the medical records regarding the plaintiff’s surgery and treatment were incomplete. An ALJ is required to probe into and explore all relevant facts, and this was especially true in this case, since the plaintiff was represented by a “non-attorney.” While state agency consultants had reviewed this plaintiff’s records, this was done before her surgery, so their opinions could not be used to provide support for conclusions about her limitations.

Without medical evidence to either support the plaintiff’s claims or show that she was capable of certain types of work, the ALJ should have given greater weight to the plaintiff’s allegations. However, the magistrate found that the ALJ ignored the plaintiff’s testimony, including failing to consider the issue of her specific functional limitations regarding the movement of her fingers and failing to ask follow-up questions about these issues. The ALJ did not provide specific and valid reasons for discounting the plaintiff’s testimony, and because of this, the magistrate found that the decision to deny benefits was erroneous. The case was remanded for reconsideration by the Commissioner of Social Security.

Contact Our Illinois Social Security Disability Claim Attorney

When making a Social Security disability claim, you will want to have the right attorney on your side to represent your interests, provide the right evidence, and make arguments to show why you should receive benefits. At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, we can help you apply for disability or appeal the denial of benefits. Contact our Cook County Social Security disability appeals lawyer at 312-999-0999 to arrange a free consultation today.




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