Adaire v. Colvin: Contradictory Evidence in SSDI Hearings

Adaire v. Colvin, an appeal form the United States Circuit for the Seventh Circuit, involved a disability claimant who became disabled as a child due to sclerosis. When he was 15 years old, surgeons implanted rods into his spine to correct the curvature, which had reached 57 degrees. Medical professionals consider any curvature greater than 50 degrees to be severe.

gavel21.jpgThe rods helped his spine curvature significantly and reduced it to a much lower 15 percent, but he still suffered from tremendous back pain, according to court records. As he got older, doctors also diagnosed claimant with cognitive disabilities, but they could not say whether or not they were related his sclerosis.

At the age of 20, United States Social Security Administration (SSA) found claimant to be disabled for purposes of social security disability, but he then got a job at a nonprofit agency. His employer was an agency that did outreach with disabled individuals. His job included driving clients to and from appointments and assisting them with cooking and cleaning.

Based upon his employment, SSA determined he was not truly disabled and had not been disabled during the past several years SSA was providing him with benefits. SSA canceled his benefits when he was 32 and demanded he repay $65,000 in wrongly obtained benefits. This caused him to declare bankruptcy. To make matters worse, his employer fired him for failing to meet the demands of his job. After being fired, he reapplied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you are disabled and thinking of going to back to work, it is best to speak with an experienced Boston social security disability benefits attorney before taking any action to see how that action may affect your rights.

He based his new application on grounds several doctors and other mental health professionals had examined him and determined he now suffered from a variety of serous conditions. He had chronic back pain, cubital tunnel syndrome, increased optical nerve pressure, and strataform disorder, which is a mental condition causing pain due to unknown origins. He also suffered from depression, short-term memory problems, agoraphobia, low IQ, dizziness, migraines, and additional physical and mental problems.

Despite overwhelming evidence, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined he was not disabled and could work at least part-time. Claimant appealed this denial of benefits and, on appeal, the court noted ALJ had based her “surprising” denial on a doctor’s statement that was in contrast to all other evidence submitted to SSA. This statement was that claimant acted normally when he left the office, and he might have “exaggerated his pain response.” Due to these statements alone, ALJ concluded claimant could do light part-time work.

Judge Posner, who is often critical of ALJ’s denial of benefits in his circuit, did not agree with ALJ’s actions. He opined ALJ’s decision was “riddled with errors,” and the court reversed ALJ’s denial of benefits for an obviously disabled claimant and remanded the case for benefits to be awarded.

While not every judge is as skeptical of ALJs as Judge Posner, this case does illustrate a need for someone on your side fighting for your rights to full and appropriate disability benefits.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
Fugate v. Comm’r of Social Sec., Feb. 18, 2015, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Rand Paul Says Many Receiving SSDI Benefits Gaming System, Jan. 27, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog

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