In a recent Second Circuit case, Social Security Administration (SSA) denied John Henry’s claim for disability benefits in a summary order. Henry who is a New York resident, made a claim for benefits based on medical impairments that stopped him from working full-time. Henry lost in front of the ALJ and appealed the decision on three grounds.
The first was that the Commissioner did not provide him with the employment data supporting the vocational expert’s (VE) testimony within the thirty-day deadline set by an earlier order. The court held that since the claimant was previously supplied with the VE’s report there was no due process violation and the delay was a harmless error.
Henry next appealed because he believed that the VE’s destruction of his handwritten notes and the original copies of the data on which he relied in his original 2005 testimony constitutes spoliation. This argument failed because SSA is not held to the same evidentiary standards as other non administrative court proceedings.
Henry last argued that the VE’s telephone testimony violated his due process rights. Henry wanted the expert to be in person at the hearing in front of the ALJ. The court skipped over the due process issue and held that since there were no time constraints on the telephone testimony, no technical difficulties, and no other prejudice the error would have been harmless if in fact there was a due process violation.
SSA ultimately was able to meet their burden of proving there are jobs in the national economy that claimant was able to preform on a regular basis.
Below is the link for the case.