Federal Court Rules on Social Security Credibility Finding

Posted on Jul 06, 2015

In this case, a Federal District Court "remanded" a claim back to the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (also known as "ODAR") to reconsider its finding about whether a Claimant was credible in describing his symptoms and limitations.

A "remand" occurs when an Appeals Court sends the case back down to the trial court or the administrative agency to reconsider evidence. This occurs when the fact finder, in this case the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) did not properly evaluate evidence.

This case involved the ALJ's finding regarding the Claimant's credibility. The federal court  found fault with the ALJ's findings that some of the Claimant's statements regarding pain and limitations were credible, while others were not. The court explained that the ALJ did not explain how he made these findings. The court pointed out that the ALJ used boilerplate language, which was not sufficient to support the ultimate finding that the Claimant was not disabled.

Although Social Security rules, policy statements, and statutes provide numerous guidelines for A.L.J.'s to consider in deciding disability, in the end, whether an ALJ finds a Claimant disabled often depends on whether he or she believes the Claimant's testimony. However, in Oregon, if an ALJ is going to find a Claimant not credible, the ALJ must have "clear and convincing" evidence that specifically points out the reasons for finding that a Claimant was not believable.

Some A.L.J.'s will go through great lengths to find a Claimant not credible. We work closely with our clients to make sure that the understand the importance of giving an honest and complete description of their symptoms and limitations. Even then, an appeal may be necessary. If you have a denied claim for Social Security Disability in Oregon or Washington, and want to know where you stand, we can help. Call us at 503-325-8600. We have gone to hearing with literally hundreds of Claimants.