Washington v. Commissioner of Social Security, No. 17-13649 (11th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Pursuant to the terms of Social Security Ruling 00-4p, and in light of the overall regulatory scheme that governs disability claims, the ALJs within the SSA have an affirmative duty to identify apparent conflicts between the testimony of a Vocational Expert (VE) and the DOT and resolve them. The Eleventh Circuit held that this duty requires more of the ALJ than simply asking the VE whether his testimony is consistent with the DOT. The court explained that, once the conflict has been identified, the Ruling requires the ALJ to offer a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy, and detail in his decision how he has resolved the conflict. Furthermore, the failure to discharge this duty means that the ALJ's decision, when based on the contradicted VE testimony, is not supported by substantial evidence.
In this case, the ALJ failed to meet his obligations to identify, explain, and resolve an apparent conflict between the testimony of the VE and the DOT on a matter of considerable importance. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions.