Ghiselli v. Colvin: Disability Benefits Cases

In Ghiselli v. Colvin, a disability case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claimant applied for disability benefits from U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2010. Her basis for claiming a disability was after becoming disabled in October 2007.  In her application for Social Security disability benefits, she claimed she was working as a customer service manager at a retail establishment and was responsible for supervising cashiers.  She was injured when a customer hit her in the back with a shopping cart.

workThis occurred in August 2007. Following being hit by the shopping cart, her back began to hurt, and she was later diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease.  She also claimed that having asthma and being obese contributed to her being disabled.  It is quite common for a claimant to have multiple conditions that all contribute to a disability rating. As you can discuss with your Boston Social Security disability attorney during your initial consultation, many people will claim mental disabilities in addition to physical disabilities.  However, one of the problems is that many people do not want to admit they have mental illness and may not even tell their respective attorneys.  For some reason, this is even more so true with male clients, and may have something to do with a cultural stigma associated with mental illness.  However, it is essential that you are honest with your attorney and tell them everything, because it will only help your case.

With respect to this case, after she filed her application for disability benefits, her claim was denied after a finding that she was not disabled.  At this point, she filed for reconsideration, and that request was also denied.  At this point, she applied for and was given a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).  It took over a year for her to get a hearing, and unfortunately this is around the national average due to a serious backlog in handling cases.  There are various reasons for this this.  One is that the agency does not have enough funding, but it is not only insufficient funding to hear cases that is the problem.  It seems the agency is delaying the entire process to delay how much in benefits it must pay out as a means of saving money.

The reason her benefits were denied is because the ALJ claimed that certain portions of the claimant’s testimony at the hearing were inconsistent. In terms of inconsistencies at an evidentiary hearing, there are different types of inconsistencies.  In some cases, a witness (or claimant) will testify to something and then testify to something inconsistent either later on direct examination or on cross examination.  This type of inconsistency is known as internal because it is the witness’s own testimony that is conflicted. This is one reason to not trust (discredit) a witness’s testimony.

In some cases, a witness’s testimony will be inconsistent with something someone else said, or something another piece of evidence purported to show.  This is known as an external inconsistency and is another reason to discredit someone’s testimony.

In this case, the court of appeals reversed the denial of claimant’s application for benefits on grounds that the ALJ did not support his discrediting claimant’s testimony with sufficient evidence in the record.

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:

Ghiselli v. Colvin, September 16, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

More Blog Entries:

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

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