Alabama ALJ Failed to Evaluate Opinion Evidence in Accordance with Social Security Ruling 96-6p

ssclgimage2The Alabama Disability Attorneys of Carmichael Law Group LLC are pleased to report in Caldwell v. Colvin, Judge Capel of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama recently agreed with our position that the ALJ failed to evaluate the medical opinions of the psychological state agency consultant as required by Social Security Ruling 96-6p.

In the brief before the Court, our Alabama Disability Lawyer argued that the ALJ failed to explain the weight given to the psychological expert and such failure presented legal error because the expert’s opinions were more restrictive than the ALJ found in his residual functional capacity.  The Commissioner of Social Security argued that “[a]ny mistake in not explicitly stating the weight given did not harm Plaintiff, and does not provide a basis for remand.” In agreeing with our position, the Court determined that “[i]n this case, remand is necessary not simply because the ALJ failed to comply with the regulations, but because without the ALJ’s explanation as to whether this specific portion of [the psychological expert’s] opinion was rejected and why, the court is faced with problematic speculation.”

We are most pleased that the Hon. Judge Capel found in our client’s favor and believe his “problematic speculation” rationale will be useful in future civil actions before the Middle District of Alabama Judges.