Appealing Appeals Council Denials to the Federal District Court
Gardberg and Kemmerly provides representation in Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims from initial filing all the way to the Federal District Court. A disability claim is first filed with the Disability Determination Service (DDS), if denied at that level, it is appealed to the Office of Hearing Operations, if an unfavorable decision is issued at that level, it can be appealed to the Appeals Council, if they deny review, it can be appealed to the Federal District Court.
Gardberg and Kemmerly recently took a case to the Federal District Court based on a Residual Functional Capacity argument. The Magistrate Judge found that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge was not "substantially justified." In his decision, the Magistrate Judge stated:
In this case, the ALJ's RFC assessment cannot be found to be supported by
substantial evidence because the ALJ does not explain, when summarizing the
evidence of record and articulating the required linkage, how the medical evidence related to each of Plaintiff's impairments supports each component of her RFC assessment. Significantly, the ALJ does not anywhere attempt to "link" the medical evidence in the record related to Claimant's admittedly severe left shoulder arthritis impairment to the RFC determinations that Claimant can "frequently" lift and carry objects weighing up to 25 pounds, "frequently" reach in all directions, and "frequently" push and/or pull using arm controls. Instead, the ALJ simply concludes that "[i]n determining that the claimant can frequently reach in all directions, frequently push and/or pull using arm and leg controls, frequently stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, balance and ramps or stairs[,] the undersigned has considered the claimant's impairments of trochanteric bursitis in his hips bilaterally, chondromalacia left knee, and lumbar stenosis." Because the ALJ failed to consider in this analysis Plaintiff's severe left shoulder arthritis, this Court cannot find that the ALJ's RFC assessment provides an articulated linkage to the medical evidence of record, and, therefore, this cause need be remanded to the Commissioner of Social Security for further consideration not inconsistent with this decision. Stated somewhat differently, the ALJ has failed to provide this Court with sufficient reasoning for determining that the proper legal analysis has been conducted.
This decision confirms that the Administrative Law Judge has the duty to properly provide their reasons for establishing a particular residual functional capacity. The ALJ must properly state how the RFC is related to each impairment that the ALJ finds to be severe. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to our clients and will fight for the benefits that they deserve.
For more information on Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents Social Security disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process from initial application to appeals to Federal Court. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. has been helping Social Security claimants with their disability claims for over 30 years.