Hall-Jones v. Commissioner of Social Security
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER not adopting 17 Report and Recommendation. The Commissioner's determination that Hall-Jones was not disabled is reversed and this case is remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this order. Judgment shall enter in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant. Signed by Chief Judge Leonard T Strand on 9/1/2017. (src)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
CEDAR RAPIDS DIVISION
JEALEE ANNETTE HALL-JONES,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
AND ORDER ON REPORT AND
This case is before me on a Report & Recommendation (R&R) by the Honorable
C.J. Williams, Chief United States Magistrate Judge. Doc. No. 17. Judge Williams
recommends that I affirm the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
Commissioner) denying plaintiff Jealee Hall-Jones’ application for Social Security
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et. seq. (Act).
Hall-Jones filed timely objections (Doc. No. 18) to the R&R. Although the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found Hall-Jones was disabled between October 16,
2012, and December 31, 2013, Hall-Jones contends that the ALJ erred in determining
she was not disabled between January 1, 2014, and the date of his decision, January 13,
2015. The procedural history and relevant facts are set forth in the R&R and are repeated
herein only to the extent necessary.
Judicial Review of the Commissioner’s Decision
The Commissioner’s decision must be affirmed “if it is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole.” Pelkey v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 575, 577 (8th Cir.
2006); see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (“The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as
to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive . . . .”).
“Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Lewis v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 642,
645 (8th Cir. 2003). The Eighth Circuit explains the standard as “something less than
the weight of the evidence and [that] allows for the possibility of drawing two inconsistent
conclusions, thus it embodies a zone of choice within which the [Commissioner] may
decide to grant or deny benefits without being subject to reversal on appeal.” Culbertson
v. Shalala, 30 F.3d 934, 939 (8th Cir. 1994).
To determine whether the Commissioner’s decision meets this standard, the court
considers “all of the evidence that was before the ALJ, but it [does] not re-weigh the
evidence.” Vester v. Barnhart, 416 F.3d 886, 889 (8th Cir. 2005). The court considers
both evidence which supports the Commissioner’s decision and evidence that detracts
from it. Kluesner v. Astrue, 607 F.3d 533, 536 (8th Cir. 2010). The court “must search
the record for evidence contradicting the [Commissioner’s] decision and give that
evidence appropriate weight when determining whether the overall evidence in support
is substantial.” Baldwin v. Barnhart, 349 F.3d 549, 555 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing Cline v.
Sullivan, 939 F.2d 560, 564 (8th Cir. 1991)).
To evaluate the evidence in an appeal of a denial of benefits, the court must apply
a balancing test to assess any contradictory evidence. Sobania v. Sec’y of Health &
Human Servs., 879 F.2d 441, 444 (8th Cir. 1989). The court, however, does not
“reweigh the evidence presented to the ALJ,” Baldwin, 349 F.3d at 555 (citing Bates v.
Chater, 54 F.3d 529, 532 (8th Cir. 1995)), or “review the factual record de novo.” Roe
v. Chater, 92 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing Naber v. Shalala, 22 F.3d 186, 188
(8th Cir. 1994)). Instead, if, after reviewing the evidence, the court “find[s] it possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents
the Commissioner’s findings, [the court] must affirm the [Commissioner’s] denial of
benefits.” Kluesner, 607 F.3d at 536 (quoting Finch v. Astrue, 547 F.3d 933, 935 (8th
Cir. 2008)). This is true even if the court “might have weighed the evidence differently.”
Culbertson, 30 F.3d at 939 (quoting Browning v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 817, 822 (8th Cir.
The court may not reverse the Commissioner’s decision “merely because
substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision.” Baker v. Heckler, 730
F.2d 1147, 1150 (8th Cir. 1984); see also Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir.
2005) (“[A]n administrative decision is not subject to reversal simply because some
evidence may support the opposite conclusion.”).
Review of Report and Recommendation
A district judge must review a magistrate judge’s R&R under the following
Within fourteen days after being served with a copy, any party may serve
and file written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations
as provided by rules of court. A judge of the court shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings
or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also
receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Thus, when a party objects to
any portion of an R&R, the district judge must undertake a de novo review of that portion.
Any portions of an R&R to which no objections have been made must be reviewed
under at least a “clearly erroneous” standard. See, e.g., Grinder v. Gammon, 73 F.3d
793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (noting that when no objections are filed “[the district court
judge] would only have to review the findings of the magistrate judge for clear error”).
As the Supreme Court has explained, “[a] finding is ‘clearly erroneous’ when although
there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Anderson v. City of
Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (quoting United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co.,
333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). However, a district judge may elect to review an R&R under
a more-exacting standard even if no objections are filed:
Any party that desires plenary consideration by the Article III judge of any
issue need only ask. Moreover, while the statute does not require the judge
to review an issue de novo if no objections are filed, it does not preclude
further review by the district judge, sua sponte or at the request of a party,
under a de novo or any other standard.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). Thus, a district court may review de novo
any issue in a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation at any time. Id. The Eighth
Circuit Court of Appeals has “emphasized the necessity . . . of retention by the district
court of substantial control over the ultimate disposition of matters referred to a
magistrate.” Belk v. Purkett, 15 F.3D 803, 815 (8th Cir. 1994). As this court has
previously stated, “[e]ven if the reviewing court must construe objections liberally to
require de novo review, it is clear to this court that there is a distinction between making
an objection and making no objection at all . . . .” Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d
841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa
1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues that might be addressed by
any objection, but will review for clear error matters to which no objection at all has
Hall-Jones alleged disability due to numerous conditions, including migraine
headaches, chest pain, degenerative disc disease, loss of feeling and syncope. AR 18.
The record demonstrates that she also suffers from type 2 diabetes. AR 17. At issue is
the change in Hall-Jones’ residual functional capacity (RFC) between the period for which
the ALJ determined Hall-Jones was disabled and the period for which the ALJ found that
she was not disabled. The ALJ found that prior to January 1, 2014, Hall-Jones had the
RFC to perform sedentary work, with the following restrictions:
[C]laimant should avoid moderate exposure hazards, such as
dangerous machinery and unprotected heights. The claimant should not
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant should avoid more than
moderate levels of noise. She can only frequently reach overhead
bilaterally. Lastly, the claimant would miss 2 days of work per month.
AR 17 (emphasis added). A vocational expert (VE), Melinda Stahr, testified that there
were no jobs in the national economy that an individual missing two days of work per
month could perform. AR 23.
However, the ALJ determined that as of January 1, 2014, Hall-Jones’ migraines
had improved to the point that a new RFC analysis was necessary. The ALJ found an
identical RFC, except for one change. Rather than missing two days of work per month,
Hall-Jones would be “off task for approximately 10-15% of the work day.” AR 24. The
VE testified that there were jobs in the national economy that a person with Hall-Jones’
physical limitations could perform in spite of being off task for up to 15% of the day.
Hall-Jones makes a number of arguments that broadly fall into two categories.
First, Hall-Jones argues that the ALJ’s RFC finding for the period beginning January 1,
2014, is not supported by substantial evidence.
Second, she argues that the VE’s
testimony that there were jobs in the national economy that Hall-Jones could perform was
flawed and, therefore, does not constitute substantial evidence in support of a finding that
Hall-Jones was not disabled.
Judge Williams began his analysis by addressing the ALJ’s stated basis for reevaluation of Hall-Jones’ RFC as of January 1, 2014. Judge Williams recommended
upholding the January 1, 2014, RFC determination because “[t]he medical evidence in
this case is susceptible to the ALJ’s conclusion that claimant’s headaches improved in
2014.” Doc. No. 17 at 15. Specifically, Judge Williams stated:
[O]n January 20, 2014, claimant visited her treating physician and
reported “I still have the same amount of headache[s], however, I only went
to the hospital twice in the past four months, which is an improvement.”
(AR 651). Her doctor agreed, noting that “[t]his is a big improvement for
her.” Id. When seen for chest pain six days later, she reported “no
headache.” (Doc. 592-93). On March 24, 2014, claimant reported she
was still experiencing four to five migraine headaches a week, but told her
doctor that “[s]he does feel like her headaches have improved over time on
the Depakote.” (AR 527). In another doctor’s visit on May 3, 3014, to
address hip pain, claimant again reported “no headaches.” (AR 589). In
a follow-up exam on July 21, 2014, to address her migraine headaches, the
medical notes indicate that claimant’s “more prolonged HA [headaches]
[were] down as reported she only had to go to ER twice in the last 4 months
for HA . . . .” (AR 646). The notes further indicate that claimant reported
that she was “tolerating her current medications well and does feel they
have helped with the severity of her HA but not the frequency.” Id. This
general improvement in the severity of claimant’s headaches contrasts
sharply with the severity of her headaches in 2012 and 2013. See, e.g.,
AR 378 (describing daily moderate to severe headaches with mild
photophobia in May 2012); AR 464 (describing a moderately severe
migraine headache in July 2013 that lasted several days causing nausea and
Id. at 15-16. Therefore, although there was “some evidence suggesting that her migraine
headaches did not improve significantly in 2014,” Judge Williams found that “substantial
evidence in the record as a whole supports the ALJ’s conclusion that the severity of
claimant’s migraine headaches decreased. Id. at 17. Judge Williams further found that
the hypothetical posed to the VE was appropriate and, therefore, that the VE’s opinion
constituted substantial evidence to support a finding of “not disabled.” Id. at 11-13.
Hall-Jones challenges the ALJ’s RFC for the period beginning January 1, 2014,
and the determination that there were jobs available in the national economy based on the
new RFC. Hall-Jones asks that I reject the R&R, vacate and reverse the ALJ’s denial of
disability and award benefits, or in the alternative, remand to the ALJ for a new hearing.
The New RFC
Summary of the 2014 RFC
The ALJ found that beginning January 1, 2014, Hall-Jones’ RFC changed such
that she could perform:
[S]edentary work . . . except that the claimant should avoid moderate
exposure hazards, such as dangerous machinery and unprotected heights.
The claimant should not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant
should avoid more than moderate levels of noise. She can only frequently
reach overhead bilaterally.
The claimant would be off task for
approximately 10-15% of the work day.
AR 24. The ALJ accounted for the change in the RFC by stating:
Beginning January 1, 2014, the objective findings in this case fail to
provide strong support for the claimant’s allegations of disabling
limitations. More specifically, the medical findings do not support the
existence of limitations greater than the above listed residual functioning
capacity. . . . However, it is again noted that the claimant’s headaches
significant[ly] improved by January 2014, which would result in her being
able to attend work on a more reliable basis. Even so, the above residual
functional capacity accounts for periods in the day where the claimant’s
daily headaches may adversely affect her ability to be on task.
The claimant takes medications appropriate to her conditions, which
successfully treat her conditions without materially adverse side-effects
(allegations of being sleeping or wired, and having diarrhea noted). (Ex.
B3E, B4E, B5E, B6E, B8E). Moreover, the claimant has not required
long-term intensive treatment for any of her conditions. Lastly, a review
of the claimant’s work history shows that the claimant worked only
sporadically prior in the recent time prior to October 2012, which raises a
question as to whether the claimant’s continuing unemployment was
actually due to medical impairments.
On January 28, 2014, the claimant reported that she had no
headaches. (Ex. 13F/43); on March 24, 2014, she reported that her
headaches occurred every day but were controlled on medication, or that
they were mild. (Ex. 12F/p87-92). By July 21, 2014 she told Dr. Chang
that she had about 4 migraines a week, but she had gone to the ER only
twice in the last 4 months (Ex. 15F/3).
So it looks as if the claimant’s headaches, while once painful and
somewhat debilitating, were resolving to a more tolerable level on
medications in early 2014. Interestingly, her mental status performance at
the examinations was intact. She testified that bright lights and noises
affected her headaches.
AR 25. The ALJ also considered Hall-Jones’ report of her daily activities, an evaluation
by state agency medical consultants dated March 1, 2013, and the report by Hall-Jones’
treating physician, John Lancaster, M.D., dated August 4, 2014. AR 19-22.
Hall-Jones argues that the ALJ’s finding that her migraines improved (thus
necessitating a new RFC finding) is not supported by substantial evidence on the record
as a whole because her migraines were still severe through 2014. Further, she contends
the ALJ erred in determining her new RFC because the ALJ discounted the opinion of
Hall-Jones’ treating physician.
The ALJ’s RFC determination must be supported by substantial evidence. The
RFC is a medical question; therefore, the RFC determination must be supported by
medical evidence. Nevland v. Apfel, 204 F.3d 853, 857 (8th Cir. 2000). Ordinarily,
RFC evidence from a treating, or at least an examining, physician is required. Fitzgerald
Morris v. Colvin, No. C14-4068-LTS, 2016 WL 3360506 at *8-9 (N.D. Iowa June 16,
2016). To determine a claimant’s RFC, the ALJ is required to give a treating physician’s
opinion “controlling weight” if it “is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial
evidence.” Papesh v. Colvin, 786 F.3d 1126, 1132 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Wagner v.
Astrue, 499 F.3d 842, 848-49 (8th Cir. 2007)); see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c)(2),
416.927(c)(2); 82 Fed. Reg. at 5869-70, 5880-81. The ALJ must give “good reasons
. . . for the weight [the ALJ gives a] treating source’s medical opinion.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(2); see also Singh v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 448, 452 (8th Cir. 2000). Ultimately,
however, the RFC determination is designated to the ALJ. Wagner, 499 F.3d at 849
see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d), 416.927(d).
Here, the record is devoid of any medical basis for the ALJ’s conclusion that HallJones would be off task for 10 to 15% of each day. In his report dated August 4, 2014,
Hall-Jones’ treating physician, Dr. Lancaster, determined that Hall-Jones would miss
three days of work per month. AR 643. Although Dr. Lancaster did not explain the
basis for this finding, it can be inferred that this opinion was based on the frequency of
severe migraines that sent Hall-Jones to the hospital, Dr. Lancaster’s office or the
emergency room (ER). In 2012, Hall-Jones went to the ER four times. AR 338, 341,
343, 349. This period of frequent ER visits was precipitated by an allergic reaction to a
Botox injection, which seemed to increase the severity of Hall-Jones’ migraines. AR
Hall-Jones also visited the ER four times in 2013 (AR 407, 533, 569, 575) and
three times during the first eight months of 2014 (AR 563, 589, 560). In 2013, HallJones had almost-monthly checkups with Dr. Lancaster to treat severe, current migraines,
diabetes and neck pain. AR 415, 446, 453, 464-84, 492, 506, 514. In July 2013 alone,
Hall-Jones saw Dr. Lancaster four times (in addition to an ER trip during the same week)
for a migraine that would not go away.
Although there was some
improvement in Hall-Jones’ migraines in 2014, the record indicates that she had a
migraine that lasted three days in July and still had severe headaches that “occur weekly,”
even if they were better controlled under current medication. AR 523, 534. Hall-Jones
testified, and the medical record supports, that these migraines made her photophobic,
phonophobic and nauseated. AR 21. When Hall-Jones ran out of pain medication, the
migraines came back. AR 534. When pain medication was not enough, Hall-Jones
treated her symptoms by retreating to a dark, quiet room and avoiding all light, sound
and movement. AR 86. Hall-Jones testified that she would self-treat in this way a couple
times per week. Id.
In addition to extensive evidence that Hall-Jones suffered frequent, severe
migraines that caused her to miss work, there is substantial evidence that she suffered
syncope episodes in connection with her other medical impairments. The ALJ stated that
he did not fully consider the effects of syncope episodes because “there is insufficient
evidence to establish allegations of episodic blackouts as a medically determinable
impairment.” AR 17. This opinion is not supported by the medical record. Although
Hall-Jones’ doctors are unable to pinpoint a precise neurological cause for her blackout
episodes (AR 688), each of her treating doctors and the state agency medical consultants
accepted her blackouts as an established medical condition. The state agency medical
consultant, Dr. John Kuhnlein, D.O., went so far as to impose several limitations based
on the fact that Hall-Jones suffers frequent, unpredictable blackouts. AR 395-96 (stating
that she should rarely bend “[b]ecause this is a trigger for her syncope episodes” and
never use uneven surfaces, ladders and stairs “because of unprovoked syncope
episodes”). Failing to evaluate the effect of Hall-Jones’ syncope on her RFC – without
identifying good reasons to reject the findings of Dr. Lancaster and the state medical
consultants – was clear error.
The ALJ also discounted medical evidence that Hall-Jones was restricted in her
ability to stand and walk. Dr. Kuhnlein found that Hall-Jones could stand, walk or stoop
only occasionally due to her left hip pain and left-side sensory deficits. AR 395. This
determination was supported by Dr. Kuhnlein’s objective finding that Hall-Jones straight
leg raising was positive on the left (although negative on the right), and that there was
muscle deterioration in her left calf. AR 394. Her gait was described as “unsteady,”
and she was “holding her arms out for balance.” Id. Dr. Kuhnlein noted lumbosacral
tenderness. Id. These findings were supported by an MRI in October 2013, which found
“mild bulging at L4-5 and L5-S1” and “a small annular tear left posterolaterally.” AR
620. Although the objective findings indicate only “mild bulging” at the lumbar-sacral
level, this pain cannot be considered separately from Hall-Jones’ syncope episodes and
migraines, which when combined with a weakened limb and hip pain, may explain her
loss of balance. This is consistent with Dr. Lancaster’s opinion that Hall-Jones cannot
stand more than 2 hours in an 8 hour day. AR 643.
The ALJ decided not to give Dr. Lancaster’s opinion significant weight for the
period beginning in January 2014, stating:
In August 2014, Dr. Lancaster, a treating physician, completed a
Medical Source Statement wherein he opined that the claimant can sit up to
6 hours in an 8 hour day, lift no more than 10 pounds on the job, and would
miss more than 3 days of work per month. The undersigned affords Dr.
Lancaster’s overall opinion significant weight, from the established onset
date until January 1, 2014. However, by January 1, 2014, the evidence
objectively indicates that the claimant’s headaches were beginning to be
well-controlled, and the weight afforded to Dr. Lancaster’s opinion is
diminished. Further, the undersigned accepts a finding of sedentary work
in light of multiple pain complaints, including ongoing daily headaches.
However, the opinion that the claimant can stand/walk less than 2 hours in
an 8 hour day is without merit, considering generally intact physical
findings through the relevant period. (Ex. B14F).
AR 22. As stated above, the RFC finding is a medical determination, which must be
supported by some medical evidence in the record, with the treating physician’s opinion
given controlling weight unless it is unsupported. Here, the ALJ did not adequately
explain why he discounted Dr. Lancaster’s assessment. Singh, 222 F.3d at 452. The
ALJ did not conclude that Hall-Jones was not a credible source for information about her
symptoms, only that her subjective complaints were not supported by objective medical
evidence. The ALJ did not find that Dr. Lancaster’s opinions were inconsistent with
Hall-Jones’ other treating physicians, or with the state-agency consultants. There is no
evidence that Dr. Lancaster was unaware of the apparent improvement in Hall-Jones’
migraines when he submitted this opinion. Indeed, the records indicate that Dr. Lancaster
believed Hall-Jones would miss three days of work each month in spite of the progress
made. Finally, there is no source in the record, medical or otherwise, supporting the
ALJ’s finding that Hall-Jones would be off task 10 to 15% of the day. See, e.g., Cosnyka
v. Colvin, 576 F. App’x 43, 46 (2d Cir. 2014) (RFC finding for off task time based on
ALJ’s “own surmise” not supported by substantial evidence).
When there is uncontroverted evidence of an impairment or combination of
impairments causing substantial absence from work, it is error not to consider this
absence. See, e.g. Baker v. Apfel, 159 F.3d 1140, 1145-46 (8th Cir. 1998) (where
uncontroverted record showed claimant could not stand for long periods of times and had
daily migraines which would cause him to miss work, it was error for the ALJ to conclude
otherwise); Cosnyka, 576 F. App’x at 46. This court has previously remanded cases in
which the ALJ failed to fully evaluate the effects of severe, lasting migraines on a
claimant’s ability to work. Mann v. Colvin, 100 F. Supp. 3d 710, 722-23 (N.D. Iowa
Stewart v. Colvin, No. C13–2029, 2014 WL 1165870 at *13-14 (N.D. Iowa
Mar. 21, 2014). Here, the ALJ did not adequately consider the effects of migraines,
syncope, and joint pain in conjunction on Hall-Jones’ ability to work. This is particularly
true with regard to the amount of time that Hall-Jones would be away from work due to
these impairments. No evidence of record supports ALJ’s finding that this combination
of ailments would result in Hall-Jones being off task for 10 to 15% of the workday. HallJones’ treating physician determined that the same combination of ailments would result
in three days of work missed per month and this determination is largely consistent with
the state agency consultant’s findings.
Accordingly, I find that the ALJ’s RFC
determination is not supported by substantial evidence. Hall-Jones’ objection will be
sustained and this case will be remanded to the Commissioner for further development
of the record concerning Hall-Jones’ RFC for the period beginning January 1, 2014.1
Hall-Jones argues that reversal and award of benefits is appropriate because she was determined
to be disabled for the period prior to January 1, 2014. Doc. No. 15 at 2. “Where the record
overwhelmingly supports a disability finding, and remand would merely delay the receipt of
benefits to which plaintiff is entitled, reversal [without remand] is appropriate.” Thompson v.
The VE’s Testimony
In response to hypothetical questions based on the ALJ’s RFC findings, the VE
testified that there are jobs available in the national economy that a person who is off task
10 to 15% of the day can perform. Because I have already concluded that the ALJ’s
RFC for the period beginning January 1, 2014, is not supported by substantial evidence,
it follows that opinions provided by the VE based on that RFC likewise do not constitute
substantial evidence. On remand, the ALJ will have to consider whether additional VE
testimony is necessary in light of the ALJ’s reconsideration of Hall-Jones’ RFC.
For the reasons set forth herein:
Plaintiff’s objections (Doc. No. 18) to the Report and Recommendation
(Doc. No. 17) are sustained and the Report and Recommendation is not adopted. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The Commissioner’s determination that Hall-Jones was not disabled is
reversed and this case is remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings
consistent with this order.
Judgment shall enter in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
Sullivan, 957 F.2d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 1992); see also Dillon v. Colvin 210 F. Supp. 3d 1198,
1212-13 (D.S.D. 2016) (reversing the Commissioner’s decision without remand where VE
testified that there were no jobs available in the national economy given claimant’s RFC); Stickler
v. Colvin, 173 F. Supp. 3d 925, 943 (D.S.D. 2016) (same). I find, however, that this is not a
situation in which a direct award of benefits is appropriate. Although the ALJ’s RFC
determination for the period beginning January 1, 2014, was flawed, the record requires further
development to determine Hall-Jones’ RFC in light of her improved migraines in 2014.
Therefore, reversal with remand is appropriate.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED this 1st day of September, 2017.
Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge
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