U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Public Health — disability benefits
Where the medical reports did not support rejection of a disability claim, it was wrong to deny the claim.
“The administrative law judge was skeptical about Misra’s report but should have been skeptical of DeWitt’s as well, not because there appears to be anything wrong with DeWitt’s analysis (or for that matter Misra’s, except poor handwriting) but because there is nothing in it on which a finding that the plaintiff is not totally disabled could be based. Both physicians diagnosed radiculopathy. Misra thought it severe; DeWitt did not indicate how severe he thought it but neither did he indicate that he thought it not severe. Although a finding of total disability could thus well be based on the reports considered together, there is enough uncertainty to warrant the administrative law judge, if he remains skeptical of the plaintiff’s claim, to order a further examination of the plaintiff by a qualified physician instructed to offer a medical opinion (if possible) on the plaintiff’s physical ability to engage in full-time work. If the judge does that, he should probably ask the physician to testify as well as to submit a written report, in order to enable clarification of his opinion through questioning by counsel and the administrative law judge. What is clear is that the rejection of the disability claim, based as that rejection was primarily on the DeWitt report, cannot be said to be supported by substantial evidence on the basis of the record compiled to date.” Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Clevert, J., Posner, J.