FORT MYERS — A federal judge has overturned an appeals court decision issued by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying a Florida woman’s request for supplemental insurance benefits.

In his order, Judge Mac R. McCoy of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that upon reviewing the transcripts of the lower court proceedings that plaintiff Marena Hernandez was not afforded the right of a proper review by the commissioner. McCoy said in his ruling that the commissioner’s decision to deny the request for a review was not supported by the substantial evidence Hernandez presented.

On April 4, 2012, Hernandez, filed for disability insurance benefits, according to court records. In her application, she alleged she became disabled about June 20, 2012.

A hearing before an administrative judge was held because the initial request was denied. On April 29, 2014, the administrative judge ruled that Hernandez was not disabled. Hernandez then appealed to the federal court for a procedural review.

In his opinion, McCoy cited Packer v. Commissioner of Social Security, which set the standard for a five-step evaluation process to be used by the administrative law judges when determining whether an applicant is disabled.

In reviewing the decision of the commissioner, McCoy said that it was determined that the lower court had failed to consider the opinion of the treating physicians and that the law requires this unless “good cause is shown to the contrary.”

McCoy said the commissioner’s decision was not supported because the court failed to take into consideration further evidence submitted by Hernandez and her physicians. Furthermore, McCoy said the plaintiff had proved her claim of impairment by the legal standards issued by the courts.  

McCoy reversed and remanded the lower court with the order to reconsider the relevant medical evidence in the record.

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