Monday, September 1, 2014

Do You Need Objective Evidence to Win?

Many of my client's are extremely concerned over the fact that they don't have objective evidence to support their claim.  While objective evidence is important and it can help significantly in convincing the judge or Social Security of your limitations, such evidence is not always possible to obtain.  
Many examiners in the SSA will state that the claimant has not submitted objective proof of either a diagnosis or of the claimant's limitations.  This argument is usually made in cases involving condition such as chronic migraines or mental illness.  
As some of you know, besides practicing in the area of Social Security Disability law, I also represent individuals who have been denied long term disability benefits by private insurance companies.  In the area of long term disability law, there is a line of federal court decisions that provide a pretty good rule as to when a claimant should be required to present objective evidence.  Even though  these cases don't deal with SSDI per se, they provide a good argument that can be used in Social Security cases.  
Federal Courts in long term disability cases have found that disability examiners can demand objective evidence from a claimant only when objective evidence is possible.  If the objective evidence is not possible to obtain, this evidence cannot be required.  
In Miles v. Principal Life Ins. Co., 720 F.3d 472, 487 (2d Cir. 2013) the Court found that Principal's request for objective evidence was unreasonable because, "plan administrators may not impose unreasonable requests for objective evidence.  Here, the record suggests there is no objective test to prove the presence of tinnitus.  It was unreasonable for Principal to request objective evidence of impairment when it had not identified any such test that exists."