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Aubuchon v. Barnhart

403 F. Supp. 2d 152 (2005)

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Aubuchon v. Barnhart

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

403 F. Supp. 2d 152 (2005)

Facts

David Aubuchon’s father applied for Social Security disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, on his behalf, for the closed period from December 31, 1999, through August 16, 2001, claiming Aubuchon had been continuously disabled since he stopped working in 1999. Aubuchon fell off a ladder at work in 1997 and injured his back, but he returned to work. By 1999, Aubuchon was experiencing chronic lower-back pain radiating down his leg. Aubuchon was treated for the pain, which he described as worsening when he sat, stood, walked, coughed, and sneezed, from 1999 through 2001, receiving physical therapy, a series of steroid shots, and a prescription for pain medication. While Aubuchon was being treated for his back pain, he was noted by physicians as experiencing liver failure due to alcohol abuse. In August 2001, Aubuchon was hospitalized with acute liver disease, and he succumbed to it in October 2004. In a May 4, 2004 decision, an administrative-law judge (ALJ) denied Aubuchon’s applications after finding his impairments did not meet or medically equal one listed in the Social Security Administration’s disability listing. The ALJ made this finding despite the sole medical expert’s testimony that Aubuchon’s impairments did not individually meet any listed impairment, but his combination of impairments was medically equivalent to the listing for chronic liver disease. The ALJ’s decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Jo Anne Barnhart (defendant). Aubuchon’s father filed suit on his behalf in United States district court to have the commissioner’s decision reversed and remanded.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Neiman, J.)

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