Jenner & Block

US Supreme Court to Hear Pro Bono Client’s Dispute over Social Security Benefits

The Court recently granted the firm’s petition for certiorari in Biestek v. Berryhill.  The firm represents petitioner Michael Biestek, who applied for Social Security benefits because of a disabling, physical impairment.  During a hearing before an administrative law judge, a vocational expert testified that jobs were available to Mr. Biestek despite his disability.  But the vocational expert, citing the “confidentiality” of her files, would not produce the data and analyses underlying her conclusions.  The administrative law judge refused to require the expert to produce this information and then denied Mr. Biestek the disability benefits.  The Sixth Circuit affirmed the administrative law judge but noted that there is a divide between the Seventh Circuit and other circuits on the issue.

“This case presents the question whether the Social Security Administration may permissibly deny benefits based on only a vocational expert’s testimony that ‘other work’ exists, when the vocational expert refuses to disclose the data underlying that testimony.  There is a well-established, and entrenched, conflict among the circuits on this question, and this case presents the ideal vehicle for this Court to resolve the issue,” according to the petition.

Partner Ishan K. Bhabha leads the team representing Mr. Biestek.  Associates Lauren J. Hartz and  Natacha Y. Lam are also on the team.

TAGS: US Supreme Court

PEOPLE: Ishan Kharshedji Bhabha, Lauren J. Hartz, Natacha Y. Lam

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