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Chicago Social Security disability attorney, disability benefits, medical evidence, disability claim, disability caseSocial Security disability regulations are quite clear about how an administrative law judge (ALJ) is supposed to treat medical evidence: “Regardless of its source, we will evaluate every medical opinion we receive.” This does not mean the ALJ must accept every medical opinion offered. Rather, the regulations require Social Security to consider any expert testimony regarding the applicant's disability and reconcile any potentially conflicting or contrary evidence. Still, the ALJ cannot simply refuse to acknowledge a medical opinion just because he or she disagrees with it.

Appeals Court Finds ALJ “Failed to Confront” Medical Evidence

No matter what the regulations say, however, many ALJs are far too eager to take shortcuts, especially when they have preemptively decided to deny a disability claim. Consider a recent decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago. A 67-year old man first applied for Social Security disability benefits five years ago. The plaintiff, a military veteran and former insurance agent, told Social Security he has been unable to work since 2011 due to a variety of severe impairments, including “his spinal arthritis, hip and knee pain, and impaired hearing.”

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Chicago Social Security benefits attorneySupplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration that is intended to assist disabled individuals with little or no income. SSI is not the same thing as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is, as the name implies, an insurance program into which workers pay. In contrast, SSI is a welfare program funded by general tax revenues. SSI is similar to SSDI, however, in that both programs require Social Security to assess whether an applicant is “disabled” and therefore unable to work.

Applicant Suffering From Fibromyalgia Entitled to New SSI Hearing

SSI applicants often face hostility from Social Security officials who choose to ignore medical evidence of disability in order to justify denying benefits. Recently the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered Social Security to reconsider one SSI applicant’s claim for benefits after an administrative law judge simply disregarded medical evidence. This particular SSI case has been pending for more than five years, and this appears to be at least the third time that Social Security will have to review the matter.

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medial evidence, Chicago Social Security Disability AttorneyIn assessing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, it is essential for agency officials to see the most up-to-date information about a claimant's medical condition. A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) may be quick to seize on an outdated medical report as justification for denying benefits. In such cases, the applicant has every right to seek a new hearing that takes into account his or her entire medical history.

Social Security Incorrectly Relies on 10-Year-Old MRI in Denying Benefits

Here is a recent example from right here in Illinois. The applicant in this case was a 55-year-old woman who suffers from back pain, anxiety, and depression, among other ailments. The applicant first filed for Social Security Disability benefits in 2006. She received a hearing before an ALJ in 2008. The ALJ denied the claim, and in doing so largely discredited or ignored medical evidence presented by two physicians who had treated the applicant.

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