Brown v. Colvin, No. 16-1066 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Brown applied for disability benefits on the ground that her bad back and obesity left her in too much pain to work. The Social Security Administration denied Brown’s application; an administrative law judge upheld the denial, concluding that Brown could perform sedentary work associated with six jobs identified by a vocational expert. The Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the ALJ violated the Treating Physician Rule when he rejected certain opinions proffered by Brown’s doctor regarding Brown’s ability to sit and stand for prolonged periods of time. In substituting his own opinions for the doctor’s, the ALJ focused on facts that did not directly pertain to sitting or standing and misrepresented multiple statements Brown made to treatment providers and others. The court rejected arguments that the ALJ insufficiently considered her obesity and improperly relied on the vocational expert’s testimony from the administrative hearing, claiming that the expert failed to provide enough information to justify her departure from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and failed to verify the source of the data on which her jobs-related opinions were based.