Bluegrass Rehabilitation Center v. Miles, No. 2013-CA-000973-WC (Ky.App. 2014): An ALJ cannot merely recite the evidence he relied upon in supporting a decision of permanent total disability (PTD). He must state how he considered the evidence to arrive at the finding of PTD. Without such, a meaningful review of the case cannot be had.

This appeal stems from an ALJ’s award of permanent total disability (PTD) benefits and the Workers’ Compensation Board’s (WCB) affirming of same.

The ALJ awarded the PTD benefits as follows:qmarks

In the present case, I considered the severity of the plaintiff’s work, her age, her work history, her education, the testimony of the plaintiff and Dr. Madden’s specific opinions regarding her occupational disability. Based on all those factors, I make the factual determination that the plaintiff cannot find work consistently under regular work circumstances and work dependably. I, therefore, make the factual determination that she is permanently and totally disabled.

The Court of Appeals determined this was insufficient as a finding as it merely recited the ultimate fact necessary to sustain an award of PTD. They observed the record showed no evidence that the ALJ balanced claimant’s age, work history, and education against her physical restrictions, the availability of more sedentary jobs, and her ability to perform these jobs. The ALJ’s opinion was “simply conclusive,” as he stated only that he considered the evidence but did not provide an explanation of how he did so.

As a result, the Court of Appeals held the record did not contain the evidentiary basis for the ALJ’s findings so as to allow for a meaningful review of the case. It was remanded for the ALJ to vacate his award of PTD and, if appropriate, award benefits based on adequate evidentiary grounds.

Advertisements