Louisiana Federal Court Reverses ALJ Decision

Because of a recent successful Federal Court appeal by Louisiana Social Security disability attorney Matthew D. Lane, Jr., an Administrate Law Judge’s (ALJ) unfavorable decision was reversed. Consequently, the client has the opportunity for a new hearing and retains the original alleged disability onset date.

Retention of the original alleged disability onset date is significant because if the client can prove disability at a new hearing, the client can potentially recover past-due disability benefits from that date. In contrast, had the client re-applied after receiving the unfavorable ALJ decision and not appealed, the client’s disability onset date typically would be the day following the unfavorable ALJ decision. Thus, the client could not be found disabled for the period of time covered by the unfavorable ALJ decision and past-due benefits for that period of time would not be recoverable.

Here, the client became disabled in 2008. In 2011, the client applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income based on cervical disc disease and hypertension. In 2012, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision, and the Appeals Council subsequently denied review.

In 2013, attorney Matthew D. Lane, Jr., filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on client’s behalf seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

In 2015, the Court issued a Judgment reversing the ALJ’s decision and provided three reasons for its decision.

First, based on MRI evidence demonstrating impingement of the spinal cord and evidence of significant problems in client’s daily functioning, the Court found that the ALJ did not properly evaluate whether client’s condition met or medically equaled a listed impairment at step three of the sequential evaluation process.

Second, the Court found that the ALJ did not properly evaluate treating source medical opinion evidence regarding client’s functional limitations under controlling law, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c) and Social Security Ruling 96-2p.

Finally, the Court found that the ALJ’s assessment of client’s residual functional capacity (RFC) was not supported by substantial evidence.

Learn more about representation in the Federal Court appeal process or complete a claim evaluation if you need assistance appealing an unfavorable ALJ decision.