I just finished sending off a brief to the Appeals Council requesting review of an Unfavorable Decision.
And Unfavorable Decision is a decision from an Administrative Law Judge finding against a Social Security Disability claimant. Often times, these decisions are based upon a review of medical opinions and witness statements or other testimony that supports the Claimant's application for disability benefits.
In this case, there were at least four separate opinions finding that our client had significant limitations. Some of the physicians had examined our client on two occasions. Some have been treating him for years. The Judge, was not a lot of rationale, summarily rejected all the opinions. How?
In many cases, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will make a basic conclusion about our client's overall "improvement" over time, or some isolated chart notes showing increased ability or function. From there, the ALJ concludes that the Claimant improved dramatically, and that somehow contradicts all of the opinions finding the Claimant significantly limited.
The problem is that often times, the ALJ will misread the actual chart note, or will read one chart note in isolation. The rules clearly dictate that when determining whether somebody is unable to work in a competitive environment, you have to look at the medical records over the long haul. They have a word for a called "longitudinal medical record." It just means that you have to look at the treatment over time, not just one day here and one day there.
This is our second appeal, and I am hopeful that our client will get his benefit sooner than later.
If you have a denied Social Security disability claim, call us at 503-325-8600. We can review your file, and let you know where you stand with the claim, and we are not afraid to dig deep to fight for benefits.