Garrison v. Colvin

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 07-14-2014
  • Case #: 12-15103
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Reinhardt for the Court; Circuit Judges Farris and Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

In determining whether a claimant is entitled to an award of Social Security Disability benefits, the “credit-as-due” analysis will be applied in order to determine whether the case should be remanded to the Administrative Law Judge to determine disability benefits, whereby three elements must all be satisfied: (1) the record must be fully developed that additional proceedings are not useful; (2) lack of “legally sufficient reasons” provided by the Administrative Law Judge for denying evidence; and (3) assuming the discarded evidence were true, on remand, the Administrative Law Judge would be obligated to conclude the claimant is disabled.

In September 2007, Karen Garrison filed an application for disability insurance benefits as a result of “physical and mental impairments.” After a denial of Garrison’s application, there was a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in July 2009. Garrison presented medical records supporting her allegations—diagnoses of persisting “cervical and lumbar radiculopathy” and other psychiatric issues—as well as non-treating medical testimony. Garrison claims that her impairments interfered with her daily activities and precluded her ability to work. In giving considerable weight to state agency consultants, the ALJ determined that the impairments alleged by Garrison were not credible and were inconsistent with claims of disability. Garrison appealed to the district court, which ruled that the ALJ did not provide sufficient reasons for rejecting Garrison’s non-treating medical expert testimony and remanded to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit applied the “credit-as-true” analysis to medical opinion evidence to determine whether a case may be remanded to the ALJ with instructions to determine disability benefits. The analysis must satisfy all three elements: (1) the record must be fully developed that additional proceedings are not useful; (2) lack of “legally sufficient reasons” provided by the ALJ for denying evidence; and (3) assuming the discarded evidence were true, on remand, the ALJ would be obligated to conclude the claimant is disabled. The panel reversed the district court’s finding because all elements of the credit-as-due analysis were met, and the record showed no reason to conclude that Garrison did not have a disability. The panel similarly ruled that the ALJ failed to consider Garrison’s medical opinion testimony and to provide sufficient reasons for not giving the given testimony adequate weight. REVERSED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search