In Julin v. Colvin, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, claimant applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) in December 2009. An SSDI claim is filed under what is known as Title II of 42 U.S.C. Section 432 and is often referred to as a Title II claim.
Claimant also filed a Title XVI claim under 42. U.S.C. Section 1382, which is a program known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In applications for both benefits, she claimed her disability started in mid February 2004. Her claims were that she suffers from anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Claimant asserted that these mental health conditions make it impossible for her to work, because she had trouble keeping her focus, lacked energy, was unable to concentrate, could not maintain a normal schedule, and was unable to engage in normal social relationships.
As our Boston disability attorneys can discuss during your initial consultation, while many people are hesitant to put their mental health issues on the application out of fear of some type of stigma, mental health conditions are taken seriously these days and are a major reason for many people get disability benefits. This is especially true when someone has one or more mental health issues in conjunction with one or more physical injuries. The reason for this is because the language in the statute is that a person must have a qualified single disability or a set of disabling conditions that together will qualify under the SSA guidelines.
In Julin, SSA denied her initial application. This should come as no major to surprise to anyone familiar with SSA and the process in general ,because well more than half of all applications will be initially denied without much thought into whether the claimant is actually disabled and in need of benefits.
Eventually, claimant was given a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) after the reconsideration attempts were also denied. The ALJ will hold a hearing and listen to testimony from the claimant and claimant’s doctors, as well as from a so-called vocational expert (VE) and doctors hired by the SSA to give their opinion. It seems that in many cases, these supposedly unbiased opinions favor the SSA who is paying them for this testimony.
The ALJ made a determination of claimant’s residual functioning capacity (RFC) as part of the five step process ALJ’s are required to use when making a determination if a claimant is able to go back to work, or is disabled and is entitled to benefits. In this case, using steps four and five of the evaluation method, he determined that claimant could work at jobs that required no more than 30 days to learn due to her concentration issues and did not involve much decision making.
VE answered a hypothetical question and said that while claimant could not go back to any of her old jobs, she could hold other jobs in local or national economy and affirmed her denial of benefits. She appealed to the United States District Court, and that court affirmed the denial as well. On the final appeal, the U.S. circuit court affirmed the District Court’s denial of 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.
Julin v. Colvin, June 24, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Crespo v. Colvin: SSDI Appeals, June 10, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog