- DISABILITY CLAIM FAQ
The reason that Administrative Law Judges give the vast majority of the time to deny applications for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits is that the opinions of the state agency consultative examiners (“CEs”) show the claimant can work. Once again, a federal district court has ruled that it was improper for an ALJ to do so.
I was retained to appeal an SSD case to the Eastern District of New York, which was assigned to Judge Nicholas Garaufis. My primary argument was that the ALJ gave more weight to the opinions of the CEs than to the claimant’s treating doctors, and in doing so, failed to apply the treating physician rule properly. In the New York metro area, CEs are usually performed by Industrial Medicine Associates.
The claimant’s treating doctor provided a detailed residual functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment demonstrating the claimant lacked the ability to perform the physical demands of sedentary work. However, the ALJ interpreted the CEs’ vague conclusions as providing for a sedentary RFC, and relied on those opinions to deny the claimant’s SSD application. Judge Garaufis ruled that:
“As Plaintiff correctly notes, the ALJ cannot rely on those RFCs as evidence contradicting the Treating Physician RFC. This is because an inconsistency with a consultative examiner is not sufficient, on its own, to reject the opinion of the treating physician.”
It seems that most ALJ SSD denials are based upon the opinions of the CEs, and most of the time the ALJ provides little or no reason for elevating the CEs’ opinion over that of the treating physician. Whether appealing to the Appeals Council or federal court, it is essential to point out the absence of a legitimate or logical basis for the ALJ’s rejecting the treating physician’s opinion.Previous Next
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