Arakas v. Commissioner, No. 19-1540 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order affirming the SSA's denial of plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits, holding that the ALJ erred by determining that plaintiff was not disabled during the relevant period.
The court concluded that the ALJ erred in discrediting plaintiff's subjective complaints by applying the wrong legal standard by effectively requiring plaintiff to provide objective medical evidence of her symptoms; improperly cherry-picking, misstating, and mischaracterizing facts from the record; and drawing various conclusions unsupported by substantial evidence and failing to explain them adequately. Furthermore, the ALJ's decision exhibits a pervasive misunderstanding of fibromyalgia. Applying its discretion to review the issue, the court concluded that the ALJ erred by according little weight to plaintiff's treating physician's opinion. In this case, the ALJ's treatment of the doctor's opinion contains several errors and is not supported by substantial evidence. The court held that the record as a whole clearly establishes plaintiff's disability and thus her legal entitlement to disability benefits. The court remanded to the Commissioner for calculation of disability benefits.