CASTILE v. ASTRUE (August 13, 2010)

Barbara Castile filed her application for Social Security disability benefits in 2002. She asserted that her disability began in 2001 and was a result of the combined effects of fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue, obesity, and a host of other maladies. Her application was denied, denied again after reconsideration, denied again after an administrative hearing, and denied again after a supplemental evidentiary hearing. The denial was affirmed by the Appeals Council. Castile filed suit for judicial review and then-District Judge Hamilton (S.D. Ind.) affirmed. Castile appeals.

In their opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Posner and Kanne affirmed. The Court first addressed Castile's argument that the ALJ erred in not considering her chronic fatigue syndrome as a severe impairment. It found not only the presence of substantial evidence to support that finding, but also noted that any error would have been of no consequence. The ALJ did find other severe impairments and was required to (and did) consider the cumulative effect of all impairments, severe and non-severe. His severity finding with respect to chronic fatigue did not matter. Next, the Court concluded that the Castile did not carry her burden in proving the combination of impairments rendered her disabled because of absenteeism. She failed to present any medical evidence on that issue. Next, the Court noted that the record did not support Castile's claim that the ALJ failed to properly consider her obesity. The Court noted the ALJ's careful consideration and thorough discussion of the evidence. Similarly, the Court concluded that the ALJ's assessment of her credibility was amply supported by the record and the result of careful consideration.