Selection of Social Security Case Law 2/17/12 through 3/9/12

DANIELS v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
United States District Court, N.D. New York -
Affirmed 3/6/12

ADHD child’s claim which outlines a level of functioning, based on IEP and school records, which does not meet Social Security’s definition of disabled.

We are dealing with an infant who has never been psychiatrically hospitalized, has no history of outpatient mental health services, is, granted, listed as disabled by the Committee on Special Education at his school; however, he is classified only as suffering from speech and language impairments and he is in regular classes with the exception that he receives forty minutes a day of resource room special education support and speech therapy for thirty minutes three times per week. The report of Dr. Hartman who examined the claimant suggests that he has mild difficulty attending to, following and understanding age appropriate directions. He is likely to have some difficulty completing age appropriate tasks given his attention deficits. He finds that he would be likely delayed in certain key areas in learning in accordance with his age group. He finds that he has a fair ability to maintain appropriate social behavior with peers and adults. He has mild difficulty responding appropriately to changes in his environment. He has mild difficulty asking 18 questions and requesting assistance in an age appropriate manner. And has mild problems detecting danger and taking necessary precautions.

BROWN v. ASTRUE – United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division -
Remanded 2/17/12

Case is remanded because the ALJ failed to consider an RFC assessment provided, at hearing by the claimant, or discuss the weight given to said assessment. An ALJ’s failure to give such reasons “denotes a lack of substantial evidence, even where the conclusions of the ALJ may be justified based upon the record.” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 243. Yet, because the ALJ mistakenly found that “a review of the record in this case reveals no restrictions recommended by ay treating doctor,” (Tr. 20), he erroneously failed to consider those limitations in determining Brown’s credibility and in posing the RFC questions to the VE. Blakely, 581 F.3d at 406. This failure was material because “an inability to lift or carry more than 1 or 2 pounds [as Dr. Raval's report indicated for Brown] would erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base significantly.” SSR 96-9P, 1996 SSR LEXIS 6, 1996 WL 374185 (July 2, 1996).


FLETCHER v. ASTRUE

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division.-
Affirmed 3/7/12

There is no special heightened duty of the ALJ to develop the record when a claimant is represented by a non-attorney representative. This case also lays out the two prong test for claimant credibility in regards to pain in the Sixth Circuit

SHEDDEN v. ASTRUE
United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania.-
Remanded 3/7/12

ALJ’s failure to consider limitations from non-severe medically determinable impairments or to give an adequate explanation for discounting it, makes his decisions at steps two and four of the sequential evaluation process defective. The ALJ may not use his lay analysis of the medical evidence or his credibility findings of the claimant, to reject a treating source’s opinion. The ALJ’s finding that the treating physician had an “altruistic and financial interest in aiding” the claimant is pure speculation and It was inappropriate for the administrative law judge to engage in this type of rationalization.”

STEPHENSON v. ASTRUE
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
Affirmed 3/6/12

DLI case and discussion on the evidence needed to prove onset prior to DLI.

ABDULLAH v. ASTRUE
United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
Affirmed 3/6/12

ALJ is not under any obligation to discuss questions posed to VE by representative nor explain why he rejected those hypotheticals.

JONES v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
Affirmed 3/6/12

3 main points
1) ALJ’s error in not clarifying how VE’s testimony differed from DOT is harmless error
2) ALJ’s failure to specifically state claimant’s educational level in hypothetical is not error as the VE knew the claimant’s educational level from the file and claimant’s testimony at hearing.
3) Term “no high production work” is indistinguishable from work that does “not involve production quotas or unreasonable time demands”

This is an interesting case out of the 7th Circuit
McDONALD v. ASTRUE
2/24/12
In which the court affirmed that there is no legal timeframe in which SSA must make a decision regarding a case and a 270 day delay for a hearing decision is not “an egregious delay” that “may violate due process”

the Supreme Court rejected the notion that federal courts can impose mandatory deadlines for processing Social Security claims. Id. at 111-18; see Wright v. Califano, 587 F.2d 345, 353-54 (7th Cir. 1978); Fitzgerald v. Apfel, 148 F.3d 232, 235 (3d Cir. 1998); Reagan v. Sec’y of Health and Human Servs., 877 F.2d 123, 125-26 (1st Cir. 1989)

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