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Medical lingo can be daunting, even ALJs make mistakes.

Published on January 6th, 2021

We argued a case in Federal Court where we showed the ALJ’s evaluation of the claimant’s condition was flawed.

The ALJ’s evaluation of the medical evidence betrays his unfamiliarity with her impairments. He suggested her pseudotumor cerebri had stabilized because, while “she complained of blurred vision, dizziness and headaches,” her EEG and brain scans were normal. (R. 22.) But the diagnostic test for this condition is an optic nerve exam or a lumbar puncture (which, in fact, confirmed high pressure, see R. 355 and fns. 7, 14), not an EEG, and an MRI would only rule out other conditions.[1] The ALJ erred in using these tests as evidence that the condition was not as severe as alleged. He cited to the same tests when addressing Ms. R. SFNP. (R. 21.) But SFNP is not diagnosed, nor is its severity judged, by EEG or MRI. It is diagnosed through a skin biopsy, which confirmed Ms. R. had it (R. 912), and is a progressive disorder characterized by severe pain that gradually spreads from the feet. See fn. 6. So the fact that she had a normal MRI or EEG was irrelevant to this impairment.
[1] See “Pseudotumor Cerebri,” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pseudotumor-cerebri/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354036

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