U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Public Health — disability benefits
It was reversible error for the ALJ to find a disability claimant incredible without asking her any questions.
“That’s it, so far as the administrative law judge’s analysis is concerned. It was deeply flawed. One flaw was in assessing Townsend’s credibility without asking any questions of her and her father even though both of them were present at the hearing. It’s true that her lawyer told us at argument that he hadn’t wanted either of them to testify, lest they contradict the testimony they had given at the earlier hearings. That is a very poor reason, but in any event the administrative law judge could and should have questioned daughter and father on her own initiative, as she could do without impropriety because a social security disability hearing is not adversarial. And it’s not as if the administrative law judge had decided to rely on the credibility assessments of her predecessor; she never mentioned the proceedings before that judge.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Martin, Mag. J., Posner, J.