Federal District Court Rules on ALJ's Duties

Posted on Jun 24, 2015

In this case, a Federal District Court ruled on an ALJ's refusal to call a medical expert at a hearing.

The Claimant had initially gone to hearing, and benefits were denied. The case was appealed, and sent back to the same Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). When the case was sent back, or "remanded" to the Administrative Law Judge, the Appeals Council ordered the Judge to call a medical expert who had previously testified in a prior hearing.

The ALJ refused to call the particular medical expert, claiming that "he finds everyone meets a Listing." The Federal District Court found that the refusal to call the medical expert witness as ordered was arbitrary. As result, the Administrative Law Judge was ordered to find the Claimant disabled, and Social Security was ordered calculate benefits. This is a rare example of an ALJ refusing to follow and Appeals Council Order. However, it does occur, and in some cases, the only remedy is to seek review with the Social Security Appeals Council, or the Federal District Court.

Our office routinely works on appeals before the Appeals Council, and sometimes, we have to appeal a case a second time to get the results our client deserves. If the Appeals Council refuses to review the case, we will work closely with attorneys who have extensive experience litigating Social Security Disability denials in Washington and Oregon federal courts.

If you have questions about whether your case may need to be appealed, contact us at 503-325-8600. We can help you understand where you are in the process. Even though we don't generally handle federal court cases, we can help you find some excellent attorneys who can review the case, and they can let you know where you stand.