Bird v. Berryhill, No. 16-2000 (7th Cir. 2017)

In 2005, while serving in the Army National Guard, Bird injured a tendon in his right shoulder. He was operated on in 2006. He reported to the VA doctors that he suffered hearing loss, migraines, and stiffness and pain in his hands, back and right shoulder, as well as anxiety, weakness in gripping objects, and ringing in his ears. The medical records include contradictory opinions from treating physicians. The VA gave Bird a 70% service-connected disability rating but pays him at the 100% rate because they found him unemployable. The Social Security Administration denied Douglas Bird’s application for disability insurance benefits. The district court remanded. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The VA’s finding that Bird is 70% disabled and unemployable does not establish that he is entitled to SSA benefits. There are differences in how the agencies evaluate claims: the VA’s evaluation is pro-claimant rather than an neutral assessment.

View Opinion