Credibility

In Social Security disability cases, credibility is a major driving force in determining the outcome of a claim.  Thus, the claimant’s testimony is extremely important.  During the hearing, a claimant will testify about his or her symptoms.  Symptoms are evaluated as follows:  (1) the medical evidence must demonstrate the existence of a medically determinable impairment “which could reasonably be expected to produce the pain or other symptoms alleged; (2) the symptoms are evluated in conjunction with the evidence to determine the extent to which they limit the claimant’s ability to work.   In examining the non-medical evidence, the law requires the consideration of the following:   (1) daily activities; (2) location, duration, frequency, and intensity of pain or other symptoms; (3) factors that precipitate and aggravate the symptoms; (4) type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of medication taken to alleviate pain or other symptoms; (5) other treatment used to relieve pain or other symptoms; (6) other measures used to relieve pain or other symptoms; and (7) other factors concerning the individual’s functional limitations and restriction due to pain or other symptoms. 20 CFR 404.1529(c)(3), 416.929(c)(3); SSR 96-7p.

Once a case reaches federal court, the credibility finding of the ALJ is entitled to a certain degree of deference, and courts often do not “second guess” such determinations.  Nevertheless, the credibility determination must be  based upon the evidence.  SSR 96-7p.  Often, inconsistencies in testimony or medical evidence are used as a basis to discount credibility.  In such a situation, because symptoms “may vary in their intensity, persistence, functional effects, and may worsen or improve over time,” the decision maker should strive to explain such inconsistencies.  SSR 96-7p.

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About tngadisabilitylawyer
Disability Lawyer in Tennessee and Georgia.

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