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Taylor v. Colvin: Social Security Disability Appeals

In Taylor v. Colvin, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claimant was a woman in her 20s who was tested to have an IQ between 70 and 75.  This was in addition to her already diagnosed intellectual disabilities. Court records indicated that during the last year she attended high school, she was performing at a fourth grade level in math.  She attained a fifth grade level in reading, and had a grade seven writing level.  She was in special education and was having difficulty with the program.

woman2Her special education teacher testified at the eventual hearing that claimant had a lot of difficulty following directions, and would struggle greatly when new academic concepts were introduced to her.  When she felt something was difficult, she would emotionally shut down and not be receptive to learning how to do the new tasks. She also had problems caring for herself, according to her teacher.

A few years later, when the claimant is her 20s, she was living with her mother and had never worked at any type of job in her life. Her intellectual disabilities had not improved, and she was not able to take of herself any more than she was able to do so in high school. Her mother still has to help her get her clothes on, take her medication, do her hair, and assist her with other daily tasks.

She is willing to help her mother perform simple tasks as far as keeping the house in order goes, but she often has to be reminded to them, and she also has to be reminded how to do them even once she knows she has to do the particular chores. Her mother does not let her cook, because she is afraid her daughter will hurt herself or start a fire.  In addition to these issues, she often becomes fatigued and will start to cry.  She will also start to cry when she feels overwhelmed, which according to court records happens often. She has vision problems as a result of a surgical attempt to correct her lazy eye.

Claimant also has frequent seizures and must take medication to reduce the number of seizures she experiences and thereby increase the amount of time between seizures.  While the medicine does help prevent the seizures, it also causes her to suffer from debilitating headaches, and she must sleep for several hours a day to deal with these massive headaches.  As if this wasn’t enough, she has kidney disease, and her kidneys are only functioning at 75 percent of normal capacity.  She cannot drive a car.

At her disability benefits interviews, she would always look to her mother before answering the question, and she was tearing during the interviews.  A therapist and other medial professionals also interviewed her.  Despite this vast history of her being disabled, the administrative law judge (ALJ) found that claimant had a residual functioning capacity that allowed her to not only work, but work full time.

She appealed this decision on grounds that it was not supported by sufficient evidence, and the court of appeals agreed. Her denial of benefits was reversed, and the case was remained for further proceedings consistent with their opinion.

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.

Additional Resources:

Taylor v. Colvin, No, August 2, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Worker Taxed Thousands for Social Security Disability Benefits He Never Received, June 21, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog