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Social Security Cannot Simply Ignore Medical Evidence

IL disability lawyerWe often come across Social Security disability cases where an administrative law judge (ALJ) improperly tries to “play doctor.” In the most serious cases, the ALJ will simply ignore medical evidence outright if it poses a potential hurdle to finding the applicant is not legally disabled. Such actions violate both the letter and the spirit of disability law.

Magistrate: ALJ “Mischaracterized” Evidence Supporting Disability Claim

Fortunately, federal courts are ready and willing to call Social Security out on such behavior. This was the case in a recent decision, Karl B. v. Commissioner, where a magistrate judge said an ALJ “left some evidence out” of their decision because it “corroborated plaintiff's claims” in support of his disability application. The magistrate, therefore, ordered Social Security to conduct a new hearing.

The plaintiff in this case is a man in his early 50s. He previously held a number of jobs as a “car washer, loader, lot driver, sales representative, and sign holder,” according to court records. In his disability application, the plaintiff cited a number of impairments that prevented him from working, notably chronic pain and stomach problems arising from a 2001 armed robbery where he was shot. After an evidentiary hearing, a Social Security ALJ determined the plaintiff was not disabled and denied his application for disability benefits.

On appeal, the magistrate found the ALJ “ignored an entire line of evidence” in making his decision. Specifically, the medical evidence included an examination performed by a colon and rectal surgeon, who diagnosed the plaintiff with an “anal fissure” and ordered him to seek a consultation with a gastroenterology specialist. The specialist later examined the plaintiff and provided detail notes regarding his chronic pain. The magistrate said the ALJ “failed to mention this entire consult and, importantly, [the specialist's] opinion on the complexities of plaintiff's condition.”

In addition, the magistrate said the ALJ made “inaccurate” claims about the plaintiff's medical history. The plaintiff's medical records demonstrated he made frequent complaints to his doctors about weakness and dizziness. Yet the ALJ said “the evidence does not show that the claimant experienced weakness, dizziness,” or any similar symptoms. This was simply “wrong on its face,” the magistrate said. Such “mischaracterization and lack of consideration of evidence requires” requires a new hearing, the magistrate said, even if upon further review Social Security again determines the plaintiff does not meet the legal standard for receiving disability benefits.

Speak with a Chicago Disability Benefits Lawyer Today

Disability cases are rarely neat and simple. Many disability applicants have complicated medical conditions that can only be properly understood by experts. Yet despite lacking such expertise themselves, Social Security officials are often quick to substitute their own opinions for actual evidence. The best way to protect yourself against such efforts is to work with a qualified Chicago Social Security disability attorney who can assist you in fully developing your medical record and presenting the strongest case possible to an ALJ.

Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.




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