Jane Doe (not her real name, D.M.) v. Berryhill, Case No. 17-cv-4776 (Oct. 1, 2018) -

In a recent case victory in Federal Court, attorney Joe Silver of Silver & Silver helped to overturn a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decision to deny Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to his client, winning her an award of benefits dating back more than four years.  Thanks to the efforts of Joe and the Silver & Silver team, the claimant will now receive the monthly disability benefits she needs in addition to the retroactive payments to which she is due.

What is unusual about this decision, is that while the usual successful remedy in Federal Court is a remand to the original Social Security ALJ for a rehearing on the issues, in this case, the Court chose to reverse the ALJ’s decision outright and award benefits based on the record.

The Background

Claimant, Jane Doe (not her real name, D.M.), alleging she was disabled, applied for Supplemental Security Income on July 1, 2013. After being denied at the initial review, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) of the Social Security Administration later issued a decision to deny her claim, prompting Doe to file appeals to the Social Security Appeals Council and then to Federal District Court for further review.

The Argument

During the review process, the District Court Judge is required to reaffirm the decision of the ALJ as long as there is substantial evidence to support his or her decision. The Court also must defer to the ALJ’s evaluation of the evidence and assessment of the credibility of any witnesses. However, the District Court Judge is also charged with evaluating whether the ALJ properly weighed the evidence in the file to determine if the ALJ afforded proper weight to the various testimonial elements.

It was on this basis that the District Court Judge found fault with the ALJ’s decision. In the ALJ’s unfavorable decision, the Judge used a report from a non-treating, consulting doctor, as the basis for asserting that the Plaintiff could be expected to perform work at the “light” exertional level, although the ALJ did not provide substantial evidence to support her reasoning.

The Decision

The court ruled that the ALJ’s denial of benefits was not supported by substantial evidence and thus reversed the ALJ’s decision to deny benefits outright. The court awarded benefits to Jane Doe dating back to her alleged disability onset date. After the Social Security Administration calculates the payments she is due, Jane Doe will receive benefits dating back more than four years and should receive monthly continuing benefits into the foreseeable future.

For more information on the case, click here.

Silver & Silver is one of the region’s premier law firms, handling personal injury, workers’ compensation, wrongful termination, and Social Security disability cases in Delaware County and throughout the Philadelphia region. To discuss an unjust termination or denial of disability benefits case, or to speak with one of Silver & Silver’s Social Security disability attorneys, call today.