People who are unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will often deny a party’s initial claim for disability benefits. In many instances, such decisions are reversed on appeal, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you cannot earn an income because of an enduring physical or mental health condition, it is in your best interest to speak with a Massachusetts Social Security Disability lawyer to determine whether you may be able to recover disability benefits.
Procedural and Factual Background of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff stopped working at the age of 45 after he suffered an injury to his dominant hand while assembling medical equipment. After the injury, he could no longer perform many of the tasks of daily life, like cutting his food, grooming, preparing meals, or shopping for groceries. He subsequently developed mental health issues as a result of the frustration of his inability to use his dominant hand.
It is reported that the plaintiff sought and received workers’ compensation benefits. He then filed a claim for SSA disability benefits. Following a hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) denied his claim on the grounds that the plaintiff was not disabled, as defined by the SSA. The plaintiff appealed.
Grounds for Reversing a Denial of a Claim for SSA Disability Benefits
On appeal, the court reversed the ALJ’s decision. In doing so, the court explained that an ALJ’s findings will be conclusive if they are supported by substantial evidence, and the ALJ applied the correct legal standard. Thus, they will be upheld if there is adequate evidence to support the conclusion, even if reasonable minds could come to a different decision based on said evidence. While the courts defer to the ALJ as to issues such as credibility and the resolution of conflicts in the evidence, the ALJ cannot ignore evidence or weigh matters in the purview of experts.
In the subject case, the court found that the ALJ erred in determining that the plaintiff’s complaints of pain did not comport with the evidence of record. Specifically, the court found the plaintiff’s arguments that the ALJ’s assessment of his statements regarding the limits of the functionality of his hand was conclusory and speculative to be persuasive. Thus, as its determination rested on factual errors, the court reversed the ALJ ruling.
Contact a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney
People who were previously employed but can no longer earn an income due to health issues may be able to recover Social Security disability benefits, but the claims process can be challenging, and claims are often unjustly denied. If you are unable to work, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts Social Security disability attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the full benefits recoverable under the law. You can contact Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a meeting.