Vocational Hypotheticals during a Social Security hearing must only account for limitationsaccepted as c redible

The claimant filed an application for Social Security benefits alleging numerous physical and mental impairments including depression and anxiety disorders. During a remanded hearing to reconsider her disability claim, the Administrative Law Judge posed a hypothetical to the vocational expert for a person who was limited to “brief and superficial contact with others in the work place” and no high production goals. Seamon v. Astrue , Slip Copy 2010 WL 323515 (C.A.7 (Wis.)). The ALJ’s decision was only partially favorable as he found the claimant disabled because of her age.

The claimant appealed, alleging that the ALJ did not properly consider all her limitations in his hypotheticals to the vocational expert. The Court held that the ALJ’s decision was proper because it was supported by substantial evidence. Id. at *3.

An ALJ is only required to create hypotheticals based on limitations with substantial support in the record. It is also in his discretion to determine credibility of the witness. The ALJ cannot simply dismiss a claimant’s subjective complaints on the basis that they are not supported by objective medical evidence, but discrepancies between the objective evidence and subjective complaints must be weighed. The Court also reminds ALJ’s that they must discuss their reasoning for ignoring any evidence by the treating physician in favor of the Administration’s consultative expert. The presumption is always in favor of the treating physician and unless clear evidence is shown to discredit the treating physician, their opinions are to be given great weight.

In this case, the ALJ found the claimant’s objective evidence was inconsistent with her subjective statements and posed his hypotheticals to include only the evidence regarding her limitations to be credible.

Attorney Allen is an associate attorney of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c. If you have questions regarding social security disability benefits, please feel free to contact her at: [email protected]

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