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IL disability lawyerIn making your case for disability benefits, it is important to present Social Security with as much expert medical evidence as possible. Otherwise, an agency administrative law judge (ALJ) may attempt to “fill in the gaps” with their own, non-expert opinions. And while such conduct contradicts the law governing disability benefits, the burden is then on the applicant to show the error on appeal, which only makes the process go slower.

Magistrate to Social Security ALJ: “Not a Doctor. Shh.”

To give an example, a federal magistrate judge recently began an opinion reversing Social Security's decision to deny an application for disability benefits with a quote from the popular television program Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “Not a doctor. Shh.”

The magistrate was expressing his frustration at yet another instance of an ALJ impermissibly “playing doctor” when it comes to assessing an applicant's medical limitations in the workplace. In this particular case, the magistrate said the ALJ simply ignored the “only evidence in the record” because it contradicted the ALJ's opinions.

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"I had a disability hearing last week and the judge asked me all sorts of questions about what I do at home and around my house. What does this have to do with me getting disability benefits?"

I received the question above a few days ago. When the Social Security Administration schedules a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, he or she must determine whether the claimant is capable of working. To do this, it is common for the judge to ask questions to shed light on a claimant's limitations.

Can you cook, clean, or do laundry? In other words, is the claimant capable of completing basic tasks that require a certain degree of effort.

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