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IL disability lawyerWhen a federal court determines Social Security has failed to properly weigh medical evidence in a disability case, the normal course of action is to remand–return–the case to the agency for a new hearing. But what happens when Social Security ignores the court's instructions? Indeed, what happens when the same disability case is brought to court multiple times?

Magistrate: ALJ Ignored Disability Applicant's Pain During Hearing

This scenario recently played out before an Illinois federal magistrate judge. This particular case, Kimberly M. v. Saul, involves a woman who has not worked in nearly 15 years. The plaintiff is in her mid-50s and stopped working in 2005 due to ongoing complications from a back injury. Despite surgery in 2016, the plaintiff continues to experience “significant pain in her spine, right hip, buttock and leg,” according to the magistrate's opinion.

Unfortunately, the plaintiff's difficulties with the disability insurance system have proved just as persistent as her back pain. By the time of the magistrate's order in April 2020, the plaintiff had been through three separate hearings at Social Security. Each time, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined the plaintiff did not meet the legal requirements for disability benefits. And each time, the court found Social Security ignored key medical evidence.

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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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medical judgment, Chicago Social Security Disability AttorneyIn assessing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, agency officials are required to seek out expert medical advice. Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) are not supposed to substitute their own non-expert judgment when it comes to medical matters. Yet, too often, ALJs still try to “play doctor,” which forces applicants to spend time and money pursuing appeals through the court system.

Chicago Court Orders New Disability Hearing for Grandmother Who Needs Hip Replacement

In one recent case, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered Social Security to reconsider an applicant's claim for disability benefits after the ALJ brazenly refused to consider certain medical evidence. The applicant was a 56-year-old woman who suffered from “chronic back and hip problems.” In March 2011, the applicant's treating physician examined her and found she “walked with a hunch, had a restricted range of motion in her lumbar region, could not stoop or squat, had difficulty walking heel-to-toe, and had difficulty both rising from a sitting position and getting off the examination table.”

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