Recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important order [12-17014 Marsh] that discussed what constituted harmless error in a Social Security disability decision. In Marsh, filed July 10, 2015, the panel of judges were very troubled when an administrative law judge failed to acknowledge or to discuss key medical evidence.
The Court of Appeals reversed a District Court finding which held that not mentioning chart notes or the a treating physician in a decision was merely harmless error. The matter was sent back for new hearing instructions for the administrative law judge to comment on the medical opinions and records.
The decision is not troubling. What is disturbing is that the District Court felt that it was harmless error for the administrative law judge to simply ignore a body of evidence.
When a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, there is most certainly sound.