Because you are disabled.

File for disability benefits.

Appeal your case.

How you presented your initial application was the best you could do at that time given what you knew and were told.

But, if you were not successful, appeal (1) because you are disabled and (2) because you can improve on your presentation.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Coronary Artery Disease, COPD, Depression and Anxiety

The Administrative Law Judge found that the claimant exhibited “the signs and symptoms of the following severe combination of impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]; hypertension; ischemic cardiomyopathy (due to coronary artery disease) . . . gastroesophageal reflux disease; adult onset type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus; obesity; depression; and anxiety.”

On appeal the claimant, among other issues, asserted that the ALJ erroneously discounted his credibility. 
The claimant testified that because of his cardiac and other problems, he had extreme limitations in physical activity “as he ‘runs out of air’ when engaging in simple activities of daily living.”

The ALJ’s decision pointed out that while the claimant asserted that his 2001 heart attack changed his life “big time,” the claimant continued working at his job for eight years.

The ALJ also noted that the claimant said that “he mowed the grass weekly, went shopping, and attended church weekly. . . .”

Additionally, the ALJ stated that when the claimant received unemployment benefits, he was certifying that he was “ready, willing, and able to work” and had been looking for work.

“[T]he ALJ specified that despite plaintiff's testimony of difficulty breathing with activity, lower extremity pain and numbness, generalized fatigue, and disabling mental impairments . . .  plaintiff did not report any of these to his treating cardiologist . . . .”

The district court sustained the ALJ decision on all the issues including credibility, stating: “The inconsistencies between plaintiff’s hearing testimony and prior statements regarding his activities of daily living provide substantial support for the ALJ’s credibility finding.”


This case shows several credibility problems for the claimant.

The ALJ’s decision pointed to inconsistencies between a Social Security function report in the file and what the claimant was actually doing (continuing to work).

The claimant was also reported to be mowing the grass weekly and shopping and attending church services without further extenuating explanation. 

Also, very damaging, the claimant’s medical records did not include any contemporaneous reports to his cardiologist regarding the disabling symptoms that he testified about.

The claimant had applied for unemployment benefits during his claimed period of disability.

Applying for unemployment benefits is a known “problem” in a disability application that should never be left unexplained.  A person might apply for unemployment benefits seeking a job with only limited hours or the ability to work from home or a job that would otherwise accommodate his disabling impairments.  Although doubtful of finding a job he could do, a person might apply for unemployment benefits because it was required of him by a welfare office.

Comberger v. Commissioner of Social Security, Case No. 1:13-cv-24 (D. S.D. Ohio, Western Div., Feb. 3, 2014).

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