Brief Fact Summary. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama affirmed the Social Security Appeals Council’s decision to deny the Plaintiff, social security claimant Marbury’s (Plaintiff) benefits, holding that the decision was supported by substantial evidence. The Plaintiff social security claimant appealed the judgment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services must consider a claimant’s subjective testimony of pain if he finds evidence of an underlying medical condition, and either (1) objective medical evidence to confirm the severity of the alleged pain arising from that condition, or (2) that the objectively determined medical condition is of a severity that can reasonably be expected to give rise to the alleged pain.
Issue. Did the administrative law judge err in his evaluations of the Plaintiff’s claims?
Held. The court reversed the denial of benefits to the Plaintiff. The Court of Appeals held that the ALJ erred in his evaluation of claimant’s testimony and also erred when he characterized the Plaintiff’s seizures as questionable without medical evidence to the same effect.
Concurrence. In a less than measured tone, the concurrence takes issue with the manner in which the ALJ conducted the evaluation, emphasizing the necessity of greater objectivity: “Although Social Security disability benefits must be reserved only for those who qualify to receive them, an ALJ may not arrogate the power to act as both judge and physician. The ALJ in this case clearly exceeded his legal authority by allowing his personal views regarding the non-physical source of Marbury’s seizure disorder to interfere with his responsibilities to administer fairly the Social Security disability programs. On remand, let us hope that the ALJ refrains from playing doctor and instead satisfies himself with merely serving as a judge.”
After considering a claimant's complaints of pain, the ALJ may reject them as not credible, and that determination will be reviewed for substantial evidence.View Full Point of Law