Weight to be given evidence must be reflected in ALJ’s decision says court

The Ninth Circuit follows the “credit-as-true” rule, which ensures that credible claimants’ testimony is accepted as true and requires ALJs to specify any factors that discredit such testimony. Further, when no outstanding issues must be resolved before a determination can be made and when it is clear that the ALJ would be required to award benefits if a claimant’s testimony was given proper credit, the court may remand a determination with instructions to award benefits. Such a result prevents the unnecessary delay in the receipt of benefits. In addition, the court established that the “credit-as-true” rule applies to both medical opinion evidence as well as claimant testimony. Here, the claimant suffered from numerous conditions which caused severe pain and significantly impacted her ability to function. The court determined that the ALJ had committed significant errors in evaluating the evidence, both the claimant’s statements regarding her pain and the medical evidence. The court applied the three-part “credit-as-true” standard. First, the court concluded that there was no need to further develop the record. Second, the court found that the ALJ failed to provide sufficient reasons for rejecting the claimant’s testimony and the opinions of her physicians. Third, the court reasoned that if the improperly rejected evidence was credited as true there would be no question that the claimant would be found disabled on remand. Therefore, the court found that because the claimant satisfied the three requirements of the “credit-as-true” standard, a remand for an award of benefits was appropriate. The decision of the district court remanding the case for further proceedings was reversed. The case was remanded to the ALJ for a calculation and award of benefits (Garrison v. Commr., CA-9, No. 12-15103, July 14, 2014).
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