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McCartey v. Massanari

298 F.3d 1072 (2002)

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McCartey v. Massanari

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

298 F.3d 1072 (2002)

Facts

Thomas E. McCartey injured his back in a workplace accident in 1987. McCartey returned to work after the accident, but by 1997 he was no longer able to work due to his lower-back pain. As McCartey’s back pain worsened, so did his more-than-a-decade-long depression. In June 1997, McCartey was awarded a pension from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) after the VA found McCartey was unable to secure and follow a gainful occupation because of his disability. The VA assigned McCartey a total disability rating of 80 percent based primarily on his depression and secondarily on his lower-back pain. The VA found that McCartey’s depression limited his ability to function independently, to adapt appropriately to a work setting, and to establish and maintain effective relationships. McCartey’s depression exasperated his functional limitations due to his lower-back pain, which left him with limited ability to perform day-to-day tasks and incapable of performing work on a continuous basis. In September 1988, an administrative-law judge (ALJ) found that McCartey was not disabled according to the Social Security Act, after concluding that McCartey’s depression was only a slight abnormality. The ALJ did not consider the VA rating and ignored McCartey’s depression in his ultimate decision that there were jobs in the national economy that McCartey could still perform and that he had the residual functional capacity to perform those jobs. McCartey requested review of the ALJ’s denial from the appeals council, submitting new VA medical records documenting his history of depression. However, the review was denied. McCartey then requested review by a United States district court, where a magistrate recommended that review be denied without mentioning McCartey’s depression. McCartey appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Reinhardt, J.)

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