Friday, March 31, 2006

Disability - GAF scores

Colon v. Barnhart - ED Pa. - March 24, 2006

The ALJ decision mentioned and discussed only 2 of 12 GAF scores in the medical reports. In her brief, the Commissioner offered reasons for this, which the court rejected, noting that it was "bound to consider the final decision of the Commissioner as written and cannot insert into it arguments presented after the [f]act by interested parties."

A claimant's GAF scores are not considered to have a "direct correlations to the severity requirements." 66 Fed Reg 50746, 50764-5 (2000). However, the GAF remains the scale used by mental health professionals to assess current treatment needs and provide a prognosis. As such, it constitutes medical evidence accepted and relied upon by a medical source and must be addressed by an ALJ in making a determination regarding a claimant's testimony.

This "incomplete consideration of the Plaintiff's GAF scores" constituted a "failure [by the ALJ] to properly weigh the evidence before him." The ALJ did not explain his reasons for not considering all of the GAF scores. His failure to include limitations from the GAFs in his hypo further undercut his decision, including the VE's testimony. The hypo must "fairly encompass all of the Plaintiff's significant limitations."

consumer protection - damages - benefit of the bargain

Lesoon v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. - Superior Court - March 28, 2006

Plaintiff sued the insurance company under the state consumer protection law for deceptive acts, including forging signatures. The trial court decided that plaintiffs did not suffer actual damages, because the company had given plaintiffs money which restored them to the status quo that existed before any fraudulent acts were committed.

Noting the distinction between general principles of contract law and the Pennsylvania Consumer Protecton Law, which was enacted to deter consumer fraud, the Superior Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs were entitled to "benefit-of-the-bargain damages" -- what they would have received absent the defendant's deceptive acts.

Pennsylvania Bulletin of April 1, 2006

Of possible interest -

- recent statutes, vetoes

- court rules - local - Venango County - domestic relations

- disciplinary board - rules - amendments

- Revenue - happy mother's day lottery game (not an April Fool's joke)

- Indpt. Regulatory Review Commission - regs. Approved