Ghanim v. Colvin

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 08-18-2014
  • Case #: 12-35804
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski and Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

An administrative law judge must provide reasons supported by substantial evidence to reject the opinions of a treating physician.

Jasim Abo Abi Shalash Abo Ghanim appealed the “denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income.” Ghanim is an immigrant from Iraq and worked in the United States from 1994 to 2009. Ghanim’s brother, “who lived in Iraq and worked with the United States military,” was killed in 2009. As a result of his brother’s death, Ghanim received “counseling and psychiatric care” from several treating providers, examining physicians, and reviewing physicians. The medical professionals recorded several psychological impairment symptoms in their diagnoses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and major depressive disorder. “Ghanim applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, claiming that he had been disabled since April 5, 2009.” It was denied, along with his request for reconsideration. Ghanim “requested a hearing before an [Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)].” The ALJ concluded that Ghanim was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and denied his application for benefits. The district court affirmed the ALJ’s ruling after Ghanim’s request for review was denied. While the appeal was pending, the Social Security Administration determined that “Ghanim was disabled as of March 29, 2012.” Therefore, at issue on review was “whether Ghanim is entitled to benefits for the period beginning April 5, 2009 and ending March 28, 2012.” The Ninth Circuit determined that “[t]he ALJ’s reasons for discounting the opinions of Ghanim’s treating providers and discrediting Ghanim’s testimony [were] not supported by substantial evidence.” The ALJ had rejected the treating providers’ opinions because they were “inconsistent with the treatment notes.” The panel found that the ALJ did not consider the medical opinions and Ghanim’s testimony as a whole, and provided an inadequate evidentiary basis for its conclusion. The panel therefore reversed and remanded the case with instructions. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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