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Public Health — disability benefits

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Public Health — disability benefits

Where the ALJ’s finding that a disability claimant’s complaints of pain were not credible was not supported by the evidence, the denial of benefits must be vacated.

“The ALJ found that Pierce had been ‘fairly consistent in terms of her complaints regarding her symptoms and their limiting effects,’ but the ALJ ultimately discounted her credibility. The ALJ’s credibility finding included a familiar statement: ‘the claimant’s statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent with the above residual functional capacity.’ When there is no further explanation, we have often criticized such language as ‘meaningless boilerplate.’ See Pepper v. Colvin, 712 F.3d 351, 367–68 (7th Cir. 2013); Bjornson, 671 F.3d at 644–45; Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 922 (7th Cir. 2010). Without further explanation, the boilerplate fails to specify which statements are not credible. Martinez v. Astrue, 630 F.3d 693, 695 (7th Cir. 2011). In this case, though, the ALJ followed the boilerplate conclusion with a detailed explanation of the evidence and his reasoning about credibility, so the boilerplate phrases are not the problem. The problem is that the explanation shows that the ALJ’s credibility finding misstated some important evidence and misunderstood the import of other evidence.”

Vacated and Remanded.

13-1525 Pierce v. Colvin

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Cole, Mag. J., Hamilton, J.

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