In a positive case for Social Security Disability and SSI claimants, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded an unfavorable decision because the ALJ did not properly evaluate a treating physician’s opinions. In Scott v. Astrue, 647 F.3d 734 (7th Cir. 2011) the Court found that the ALJ’s analysis reveals an all-too-common misunderstanding of mental illness. “The very nature of bipolar disorder is that people with the disease experience fluctuations in their symptoms, so any single notation that a patient is feeling better or has had a ‘good day’ does not imply that the condition has been treated.” The ALJ “was too quick to read inconsistencies” into the treating doctor’s statements. It is not inconsistent for a patient to respond to treatment yet be markedly limited in her ability to work. Although the plaintiff had improved with treatment, she continued to experience manic depressive episodes. An ALJ may not pick and choose certain parts of a medical opinion.
All too often records reflect conditions that wax and wane, but nonetheless are severe enough to prevent a successful return to gainful employment. These issues must be addressed to the ALJ as clearly as possible and any weak points in the record need to be covered during testimony and argument.
If you need more information about a personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), Social Security Disability or SSI matter, EEOICPA claim, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.