Ninth Circuit Clarifies and Harmonizes Credit-as-True Rule Garrison v. Colvin

Your journey to the district court has taken years.  The Appeals Council failed to provide any relief; the issues are clear the administrative law judge (ALJ) failed to provide legitimate reasons for discrediting the opinions from your client's physicians or your client's testimony.  Is your best hope a remand for further protracted administrative proceedings?

Maybe not if you are practicing in the NInth Circuit.  The credit as true doctrine, derived from Varney II--Varney v. Sec'y of Health and Human Serv., 859 F.2d 1396 (9th Cir. 1988)--holds that where there are no outstanding issues to be resolved and it is clear that a finding aof disablity would follow if the claimant's testimony were credited, the courts will not remand for additional proceedings just to allow the ALJ to make specific findings.

In Garrison v. Colvin, the Ninth Ciircuit, 12-15103 (July 14, 2014 Ninth Circuit),, reversed the district court's order remanding a case back to the Social Security Administration for another hearing after the ALJ failed to provide legally sufficient reasons for discrediting the doctors' opinions.  The court also found that the ALJ failed to provide a legally cogent reason for discrediting Plaintiff's testimony.  The Ninth Circuit, instead, remanded the case for a calculation of benefits and, in doing so, dismissed the notion that there is an intra-circuit split on the credit as true doctrine.

Practice tip:  In order to invoke the credit as true rule, at step five of the sequential evaluation, counsel would be wise to frame a hypothetical to the vocational expert detailing the limitations supported by the record.