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.


New Social Security Ruling Prohibits New Claim While Appeal is Pending

Social Security Ruling 11-1p, which was published in the Federal Register today, July 28, 2011, changes the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) policy regarding the filing of new disability claims while another claim is pending before the Appeals Council.  Under SSR 11-1p, SSA will no longer process new applications for disability benefits if the applicant has a current claim pending before the Appeals Council.  

The prohibition does not apply if the new application is filed under a different title of the Social Security Act.  In other words, if a claim is pending before the Appeals Council for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Act, SSR 11-1p does not prohibit the claimant from filing a new application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act.  In addition, SSR 11-1p does not prohibit a new application for a different benefit type than a pending claim.  Finally, SSR 11-1p does not appear to have any effect on a claimant seeking to file a new application while a prior application is being appealed in the Federal Court system.

In sum, as a result of SSR 11-1p, claimants who receive an unfavorable Administrative Law Judge decision will have to make a choice between appealing the decision to the Appeals Council or filing a new application.