Donald Bishop Comment

Publication Date
March 7, 2013

My client's parents are haunted by their experience with failure to follow the Treating Physician Rule. One morning last year his mother unlocked her bedroom door and went to check on her son. She open his bedroom door to find that he had taken his life during the night. After delaying the hearing on two occasions by requiring that my client be released from the state hospital before a hearing would be held, an ALJ placed complete reliance on a one time consultative mental evaulation by a psychologist who reported that the claimant was merely acting out. This misplaced reliance was in spite of three different hospitalizations at the state hospital, one of which was of four months duration. Several times the treating psychiatrist and psychologist at the state hospital had written the ALJ that my client could not bear the pressures of living in society and was both homicidal and suicidal. But the ALJ declined to give any weight to the doctors who had treated my client for most of a year and instead gave full credence to the one time consultative psychologist. After his last release from the state hospital, my client's parents had had to lock their bedroom door for fear of their lives. My client's children will have no worthwhile memories of their father and went without any support during the wait for the hearing to be held and for the years it took for this case to progress through the appeals process and the eventual suicide. There is merit in requiring observance of the Treating Physician Rule.