Marsh v. Colvin

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 06-18-2015
  • Case #: 12-17014
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judge Silverman and Hurwitz
  • Full Text Opinion

Administrative Law Judges cannot ignore medical opinions and records.

Naomi Marsh applied for Social Security benefits, her application was denied, and she appealed. She claimed to be injured from work-related injuries and from complications resulting from a car wreck. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied her application, which contained evidence of medical opinions, including notes from doctors and clinical progress. The denial did not mention her doctor or her progression notes. The District Court denied her Rule 59 (e) motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed whether it was harmless for the ALJ disregard medical opinions and records. The panel held that harmless error must be analyzed in light of the circumstances of the case. Molina v Astrue. The panel reasoned that because the law requires “specific and legitimate reasons that are supported by substantial evidence” to reject a treating source's’ medical opinion, this analysis applied to the case at hand. Therefore, the court could not confidently concluded that the error was harmless, whereupon the panel held that the ALJ erred when he did not mention a treating doctor's opinion and his notes in the ALJ’s written decision. The ALJ was specifically invited to comment on the medical opinions and records before the panel makes a decision. VACATED and REMANDED with INSTRUCTIONS.

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