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Can Social Security Revoke Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

Chicago disability benefits attorneySocial Security Disability insurance benefits are not necessarily permanent. Social Security may review and revoke disability benefits if it later determines that an individual is capable of working. This does not necessarily mean the individual no longer suffers from a disability, only that Social Security now has reason to believe that he or she can hold down a meaningful job in some capacity.

Court Upholds Decision to End Benefits for Illinois Man With Learning Disability

In one recent case, the Chicago-based U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Social Security’s decision to terminate the disability benefits the plaintiff—a man in his late 40s who suffers from a severe learning disability. Social Security initially determined the plaintiff was disabled and unable to work in 1993. But in 2004, the agency reviewed the man’s case and determined “his disability had ended.”

Over the next 12 years, the plaintiff unsuccessfully fought Social Security’s decision in court. A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing and issued an opinion affirming the agency’s earlier conclusion that the plaintiff was no longer legally disabled. Subsequent appeals to a federal magistrate, a federal district judge, and the Seventh Circuit all produced similar outcomes.

The Seventh Circuit explained that the ALJ’s decision was supported by “substantial evidence.” For example, the ALJ decided not to give “controlling weight” to the testimony of a medical expert hired by the plaintiff and his disability attorney. The ALJ said the expert never personally treated the plaintiff, and his opinions contradicted those of other doctors who examined the plaintiff. The ALJ also discounted the testimony of the plaintiff’s family members, noting they had previously “admitted to lying, forging [the plaintiff’s] signature, and falsifying receipts, as part of a scheme to evade taxes.”

More importantly, the Seventh Circuit said the ALJ heard evidence that the plaintiff, despite his learning disability, was able to drive and regularly “assisted at his mother’s flower shop.” These “daily activities” suggested he was capable of performing some types of jobs, provided he was given sufficient instruction and did not have to interact with the public on a regular basis. To that end, a vocational expert questioned by the ALJ opined that the plaintiff was capable of “as a house cleaner, car washer, or kitchen helper,” and that such jobs existed in sufficient quantities throughout Illinois. Accordingly, the Seventh Circuit declined to overturn the ALJ’s decision to end disability benefits.

Get Help From an Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Cases like this one illustrate how difficult it can be for individuals with severe learning disorders and other mental disabilities to maintain Social Security benefits. Social Security officials are careful to scrutinize a disability recipient’s actions for any sign that must justify reconsidering and ending benefits. That is why it is if you have a family member in need of assistance from a qualified Chicago disability benefits lawyer, you should contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC for help.



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