Battle over the Tennessee Supreme Court

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/if-judges-campaign-like-ordinary-politicians-can-we-have-impartial-courts/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

New Ruling SSR 14-1p

SSR 14-1p should be consulted in any case involving chronic fatigue syndrome. If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and are unable to work, contact The Hamilton Firm for a free consultation.

2013 Appeals Council Statistics

In fiscal year 2013, the Appeals Council took approximately one year to process requests for review. Almost 77% of the requests were denied by the Appeals Council.  In other words, the Appeals Council refused to review almost 80% of the requests filed. Approximately 17% of the requests resulted in a remand. About 1% of the requests for review by the Appeals Council resulted in a favorable decision.

If the claimant is denied, the decision on whether to re-file for benefits or appeal the decision to the Appeals Council is very difficult.  If you decide to appeal to the appeals council, it will probably take at least a year to get a decision, and about 80% of those requests will not even be reviewed.  If you decide to appeal your claim to the Appeals Council, make sure your attorney or representative is able and willing to consider taking the case to Federal Court.

Child Support and Social Security Disability

“It is well settled in Tennessee that SSI benefits are not subject to legal process for payment of court-ordered child support.”  In re Jordan H. (Tenn.Ct.App. March 25, 2014).  SSDI benefits, on the other hand, can be garnished. 

Evaluating Medical opinions

The regulations require an ALJ to evaluate every medical opinion. 20 CFR 404.1527(b): “we will evaluate every medical opinion we receive.”  The evaluation must comply with 20 CFR 404.1527(d).  Remember, a treating source opinion should not be rejected absent “good reasons.”  Id.

Headaches and Disability

A common problem I see in disability claims is the evaluation of headaches.  So long as there is evidence to support the presence of possibly disabling headaches, the ALJ must address the issue.  2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 8450

 

Consideration of VA benefits in an SSDI claim

A recent case from a local district court that resulted in remand addressed a number of important issues, including the issue of a VA disability determination in the context of a SSDI claim.

According to the Commissioner’s own rules and regulations, a decision by any governmental agency about whether an individual is disabled must be considered evidence. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1504. While such evidence may not be binding on the Administration, various Circuit Courts, including the Sixth Circuit, have held that the Commissioner must give the decisions of other agencies evidentiary weight.

. . . .  Furthermore, the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts have held that a VA ratings decision was entitled to “great weight.” . . . .

Reynolds v. Colvin, 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 8450 (E.D.Tenn. Jan. 3, 2014)

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