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Minnick v. Colvin: Proving Disability

In Minnick v. Colvin, an appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claimant saw his doctor in January of 2009 with complaints of lower back pain radiating down both legs. His doctor opined the pain was muscular in nature. He also found a secondary cause to be deconditioning and obesity. Doctor suggested claimant may have fibromyalgia.

pain.jpgWhen his condition did not improve after some time, doctor ordered an MRI of claimant’s lumbar spine. MRI scan revealed lumbar spondylosis, a bulging disc, and hypertrophic degenerative spur formation. Doctor made a diagnosis of lumbar spondylosis and recommend claimant walk to lose weight and also prescribed Vicodin to help with pain.
In December of 2009, claimant had another series of X-rays and MRIs which showed disc space narrowing and mild spinal stenosis. There was also evidence of disc protrusion and moderate mass effect on two nerve roots.

Boston Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) lawyers understand back pain can be extremely painful, making it nearly impossible for patients to lead a normal life and go to work as they could before the pain began.

In June of 2010, claimant saw another doctor with complaints of daily headaches, migraines, and fibromyalgia. This doctor noted some improvement with headaches at a follow up visit but also noted left back pain, thoracic pain, carpal pedal spasms in claimant’s arms, and left leg pain.

In October of 2010, claimant saw a rheumatologist who found normal leg raise and found no evidence of fibromyalgia, but felt he could have just seen claimant on a good day and that his pain history was strongly consistent with a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The following month he saw another medical professional who diagnosed claimant with COPD and fibromyalgia with chronic muscle pain and fatigue.

As his pain increased, he saw a series of other doctors to help diagnose and treat his various medical conditions. Claimant applied for SSDI benefits and was initially denied. He was eventually granted an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). During the hearing, claimant was 46 years old and testified he had been working as a truck driver until taking short-term medical leave to deal with his hip and leg pain. He returned to work and was laid off. He further testified he had trouble reaching overhead and raising his arms above shoulder level. He said he was in constant pain.

Near the end of the hearing, ALJ questioned a vocational expert (VE). ALJ determined claimant had a residual functioning capacity (RFC) allowing him to lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally, frequently lift and carry five pounds, walk or stand for two hours and climb stairs occasionally. He could never kneel, crouch, climb a ladder, crawl, and had to use a cane when walking. ALJ found he could not work as a truck driver but could work as an optical final assembler, addresser, and telephone order clerk. Claimant appealed this decision he was not disabled because he could allegedly work these three obscure jobs.
On appeal, the court found ALJ’s ruling was not supported by credible evidence and reversed and remanded the case.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

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