Alaura v. Colvin, No. 15-1727 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Alaura, age 22, was struck in the back of his head by an assailant wielding a bar stool. The blow shattered his skull, necessitating emergency surgery to remove part of his brain and place a metal plate in his skull. During this craniotomy Alaura had a seizure. Alaura has repeatedly seen neurologists, complaining of headaches, dizziness, and confusion, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic headaches, cognitive impairment, and occipital neuralgia, an injury to or inflammation of nerves that run from the spinal cord at the base of the neck up through the scalp. It causes piercing or throbbing pain in the neck, the back of the head, and the front of the head behind the eyes. A year later, Alaura still complained of daily headaches, “absence-type” seizures several times a week, and back and neck pain. The Seventh Circuit reversed denial of Alaura’s claim for social security disability benefits as premature, stating that the “long list” of severe impairments “don’t sound like trivial obstacles to being able to hold full-time employment.” The administrative law judge’s explanations were “thin,” he made no effort to consider the combined effects on Alaura’s ability to work of all his impairments and limitations.