We represent a 23 year old claimant from Huntington with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder whose application for social security disability (“SSD”) insurance benefits was denied by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Susan G. Smith. The Appeals Council remanded the case to another ALJ after because Smith had failed to conduct a fair hearing.
ALJ Smith made a mockery out of the administrative hearing process because she never intended to consider the claimant’s testimony. The purpose of a hearing is for the ALJ to look fully into the issues and question the claimant. A claimant’s testimony is taken when the objective evidence supposedly fails to substantiate the degree of impairment-related symptoms so the ALJ can consider the claimant’s statements about the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms.
After confirming the information that the claimant had already submitted about her education and past work, the ALJ only asked why the claimant stopped working. The ALJ failed to ask the claimant anything at all about her pain, or inability to work with coworkers, supervisors or the public. In fact, the ALJ failed to ask the claimant anything whatsoever about her physical or mental impairments. In other words, the ALJ had predetermined to reject the claimant’s testimony concerning her symptoms regardless of what she had to say.
Prejudging is the very definition of bias. ALJ Smith’s disregard for anything the claimant could possibly say demonstrated her prejudging. I asked the Appeals Council to reassign the case to another ALJ if it were not remanded for a calculation of benefits. The Appeals Council chose the latter, and the new ALJ assigned to the case issued a fully favorable decision today.
This is another example of why it is so important to retain an attorney who specializes in disability, if you decide to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Please call my office for a free phone consultation. Our Long Island offices are conveniently located in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
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