Fischer v. Colvin, No. 15-1041 (1st Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 2012, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act, alleging a disability onset date of 1995. Plaintiff’s date last insured (DLI) was in 1998. An administrative law judge (ALJ) denied benefits, concluding that Plaintiff was not disabled prior to her DLI and was thus not eligible to receive benefits. The district court vacated the Commissioner’s decision and remanded for further proceedings, ruling that the ALJ failed to comply with Social Security Ruling (SSR) 83-20 and consult a medical advisor before drawing inferences as to whether Plaintiff’s onset date preceded the expiration of her insured status. In making its ruling, the district court relied upon Social Security Ruling (SSR) 83-20, which instructs an ALJ to consult a medical expert when the ALJ must infer a claimant’s date of disability onset on the basis of ambiguous medical evidence. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that SSR 83-20 did not require the ALJ to consult a medical expert because the medical evidence was not ambiguous, and thus, the ALJ did not need to infer Plaintiff’s date of disability onset. Remanded for consideration of Plaintiff’s remaining claims.