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10-1957, 10-2603 & 10-2080 Martinez v. Astrue

Public Health
Disability benefits

Where the ALJ found an applicant for disability benefits to be not credible, without explanation, the denial of benefits must be reversed.

“The administrative law judge discussed so little of the evidence that her conclusion that Martinez’s complaints of severe pain and fatigue ‘are out of proportion to the objective physical findings’ is suspended over air. She did not so much as mention the difficulty that Martinez has in using her hands, which makes the suggestion that she could be a ‘hand assembler’ amount to a bad joke. Ignored was the requirement that administrative law judges carefully evaluate all evidence bearing on the severity of pain and give specific reasons for discounting a claimant’s testimony about it. Social Security Administration, ‘How We Evaluate Symptoms, Including Pain,’ 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529; ‘Policy Interpretation Ruling Titles II and XVI: Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims: Assessing the Credibility of an Individual’s Statements,’ Social Security Ruling 96-7p; Lopez v. Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535 (7th Cir. 2003) (per curiam); Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035-38 (9th Cir. 2007); Patrice Rusconi et al., ‘Taking into Account the Observers’ Uncertainty: A Graduated Approach to the Credibility of the Patient’s Evaluation,’ 33 J. Behav. Med. 60, 68 (2010). ‘The etiology of pain is not so well understood, or people’s pain thresholds so uniform, that the severity of pain experienced by a given individual can be “read off” from a medical report.’ Johnson v. Barnhart, 449 F.3d 804, 806 (7th Cir. 2006).”

Reversed in part, and Affirmed in part.

10-1957, 10-2603 & 10-2080 Martinez v. Astrue

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Mason, Mag. J., Posner, J.

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