August 10, 2010 - James L. Turner served his country in the Army in Vietnam. He returned from Vietnam with two purple hearts, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and frequent flashbacks. In a 2-1 divided opinion, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday Turner could still perform certain employable tasks. Because of that finding, the Court stated Turner was not entitled to collect Social Security disability benefits.
The Court found Turner could work in an environment where he was alone and could perform "simple, repetitive tasks." Judge Bybee ruled against Turner after taking into consideration the fact that Turner currently performs chores that include fence repair at his home.
Turner's doctor, however, maintained Turner was unable to work because of his psychological impairment. Judge Gould wrote a passionate dissent believing the medical testimony presented supported Turner's inability to work. Gould went on to say should Turner be forced into a work environment, he would likely present a danger to both himself and others.
1987 Turner was rated at 30% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which entitled him to VA benefits. In 1997 the VA listed him at 100% disabled, and he applied for his Social Security benefits in 2002 claiming he had been unable to work since 1990 because of disability.
Judge Bybee found no independent verification for Turner's doctors statements, which played a significant role in her decision. Further, how the VA rated Turner's disability had no impact or influence on the Social Security Administration or the court system.
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