So this dude Biestek was a carpenter and contractor. Biestek had problems, y’all. Like seriously, this dude was defective AF.
He had degenerated discs in his spine, which made it hard to do labor with the pain that comes from this. He had hepatitis C, presumably because he stuck his dinger somewhere he shouldn’t have. And, he was depressed, which seems pretty understandable with the other two problems.
So dude decided to file for government disability assistance, because finding a job that doesn’t require labor, was apparently too much to ask.
The Social Security Administration denied his bullshit, and told him to take a walk. In reviewing his case, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), going on testimony by an expert in job availability, basically decided Biestek was clearly able to be productive, and based on stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their own independent research, argued there was plenty of shit Biestek could do for a living, and thus had zero business asking the tax payer to fund his life in perpetuity.
Biestek appealed, and the ALJ testified against him, saying he could fucking work, and there were jobs available for him. But the ALJ didn’t really supply a whole lot of data to support that claim. And by whole lot, I mean didn’t at all. Basically, they just said, “I know my shit. Don’t question me.”
So the court was asked to determine if the ALJ’s expert must provide all their data to be considered expert testimony, or if their opinion is good enough. To be clear, the court was asked to say that in any case anywhere, data should be provided, not just for these mother fuckers. But the court was all like, “We’re all intelligent people here. We can hear shit on a case-by-case basis. We’re not going to make some grand fucking rule that says you must provide data or get the fuck outta here. And if we determine someone is an expert, that means they have a wealth of knowledge in their head, and we shouldn’t expect them to carry around their life’s work like a huge set of encyclopedias everywhere they go.”
Six out of nine SCOTUS justices said they can’t be bothered with data every goddamn time, and think an expert is an expert. Just take their goddamn word for it.
Ruling for Berryhill, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration.
Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.