JACKSONVILLE – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently granted an Army veteran a new hearing for disability benefits after he had been denied the benefits by the Social Security Administration and that decision was later backed by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Lindell Washington alleges that he was denied disability benefits because the Social Security Administration (SSA) and an administrative law judges failed to properly review his claim.
In its Oct. 29 ruling, the appeals court agreed with Washington and reversed and remanded the earlier decisions, writing in part that the administrative law judge "failed to meet his obligations to identify, explain, and resolve an apparent conflict between the testimony of the vocational expert and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles on a matter of considerable importance."
Washington filed a claim for disability benefits with the SSA in November 2012 stating he has Type 2 diabetes and suffers from diabetic neuropathy. In addition, he is obese and has a history of alcohol abuse. Washington claimed he is disabled on account of his illnesses, court papers state. His claim was initially denied in December 2012 and again on reconsideration in March 2013. Washington then appealed the denial and the matter was heard before the administrative law judge in August 2014.
At the 2014 hearing, Washington provided testimony about his diabetic neuropathy and other health problems which prevented him from working. "He also explained that he has difficulty with certain basic tasks, such as buttoning his shirts and tying his shoes," court documents state.
The vocational expert provided positions to which Washington was able to perform even with his condition. Court filings say based on this, the administrative law judge determined that "Washington could find work as a bagger or table worker despite his impairments."