Treichler v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 12-24-2014
  • Case #: 12-35944
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judge Alarcón; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

When denying an applicant receipt of disability insurance benefits, the Administrative Law Judge must give proper reasoning.

Allen Treichler worked as a tree trimmer until he fell out of a tree and sustained substantial injuries. Although surgery helped him partially recover from the fall, he still suffered pain in his left ankle, which never entirely healed properly. Treichler visited an orthopedic surgeon who opined that because of the nature of his ailments, Treichler could participate in vocational assistance activities, but his weight bearing activities would be limited because of the damage in his ankle. Treichler eventually enrolled in work as a cost-estimator under the advisement of his treating physician. Additionally, Treichler also suffered from urinary tract problems and had problems emptying his bladder fully. Treichler had to self-catheterize in order to remedy this problem. Eventually, Treichler filed an application for disability and disability insurance benefits because of his bladder issues and his ankle problems. His application was denied, but Treichler filed a written request for a hearing. During the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Treichler submitted medical records and testified to the severity of his ailments. Treichler testified that he “was not very mobile,” and that “his back is always in pain and he has a really bad day ‘[p]robably twice a week.’” He also testified that his bladder would at times just “let go” and he “‘wet[s] [him]self’ around two to three times a week.” His wife also testified about his symptoms. However, he was still denied disability benefits by the ALJ. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the ALJ’s decision because the ALJ failed to specify the reason for denying Treichler his benefits. However, the panel did not find that there was sufficient evidence to determine that Treichler did suffer a disability, so the case was remanded for that determination. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED for further proceedings.

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