Last week we covered a Social Security Disability appeals case in which a SSI applicant challenged an ALJ’s adverse credibility determination. An appeals court declined to challenge the ALJ’s analysis of the man’s medical record but noted that the ALJ’s failure to obtain the man’s VA disability rating was an error which warranted a reversal of the ALJ’s decision.
The Social Security Administration is not required to reach the identical result of the VA, but administrative law judges are required to consider the VA’s disability findings in a case and give “great weight” to a VA determination of disability. The VA disability evaluation process does differ slightly from the SSA process, which is why the SSA does not require ALJs to give complete deference to the VA’s determination.
There are times however when the facts of a particular case may warrant the ALJ to give less weight to the VA determination of disability. There are also situations when the VA gives a partial determination of disability. In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits a person must no longer be able to work. A partial disability finding by the VA can undercut any SSDI or SSI application because the partial disability finding may support a determination that an individual is able to perform some work.
The context of the SSI appeal which we discussed last week, the ALJ’s failure to obtain the VA disability rating of the applicant was considered reversible error. The court found that the ALJ was aware that the applicant likely had a VA disability rating and therefore the ALJ had a duty to inquire into what the rating was in order t fully develop the medical record.
Source: United States Court of Appeals, “McLeod v. Astrue,” No. 09-35190; D.C. No. 9:07-CV-52-JCL