Last time, we discussed the appeals process for a Social Security disability claim. A recent case demonstrates how this process can work. A woman’s application for SSD benefits was denied. She appealed and the ALJ denied her claim. Her appeal of the ALJ’s decision was denied by the Appeals Council, and so the woman appealed to a federal court.

A federal magistrate judge found the ALJ failed to provide support for the denial in the opinion and she recommended sending the case back to SSA to remedy this failure. SSA objected and they appealed the case to a U.S. District Court judge. She ruled against SSA and agreed with the magistrate judge. She ordered the case be returned to ALJ for additional findings. 

In this case, the ALJ noted that while the medical evidence seemed to support the disability claim, the worker’s claim that she suffered fatigue and had difficulty with the pace of work and concentrating on an activity, lacked credibility.

The District Court judge found the ALJ’s hypothetical for the vocational expert who testified was flawed and did not qualify as substantial evidence for denying the claim. This was because the opinion did not adequately explain the credibility issue relating to each of her symptoms, and which elements of her claim lacked credibility.

The worker now has to await the new ruling from the ALJ, and she could still be denied her claim. For anyone who believes SSD benefits are easy to obtain, this case should remind them that the appeals process can be long and difficult and persistence is necessary.

Source: pennrecord.com, “Benefits dispute remanded to Social Security Commissioner’s Office,” Nicholas Malfitano, July 13, 2015