Hampton v. Colvin
JUDGMENT in favor of Clara Hampton against Carolyn W. Colvin. The case is REMANDED for further proceedings. CASE CLOSED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden on 6/22/17. (ncb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
COMMISSIONER, UNITED STATES
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
This cause is before the court on Plaintiff’s complaint for judicial review of an
unfavorable final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,
denying a claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The parties have
consented to entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit. The court, having reviewed the administrative record, the briefs of the parties, and
the applicable law, and having heard oral argument, finds as follows:
Consistent with the court’s ruling from the bench during a hearing held June 21,
2017, the court finds the ALJ failed to properly assess the opinions of the claimant’s treating
psychiatrist and, consequently, the ALJ’s mental residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
determination is not based upon substantial evidence. Specifically, the ALJ failed to conduct
the analysis of the six factors required by Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448 (5th Cir. 2000) and
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d) prior to assigning “little” weight to the opinions given in Dr. Robert
Hardy’s medical source statement. Indeed, there was no physician opinion contradicting Dr.
Hardy’s opinions regarding the claimant’s ability to perform work-related activities,
including–but not limited to–his assessments that the claimant had poor or no ability to
“interact appropriately with the general public;” “deal with normal work stress;” and “accept
instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors.”
The court finds the ALJ’s failure to properly consider Dr. Hardy’s opinions
prejudiced the claimant. For example, had the ALJ considered the “consistency of [Dr.
Hardy’s] opinion[s] with the record as a whole,”1 the ALJ would have had to address the fact
that Dr. Hardy’s opinion (among others) that the claimant would miss more than three days
of work per month was consistent with the opinion of Dr. A.P. Soriano, who also provided
treatment for the claimant’s mental impairments. And, to go a step further, it is hard to
imagine that had the ALJ incorporated Dr. Hardy’s and Dr. Soriano’s conclusion into the
claimant’s RFC, a vocational expert would not have opined that the number of available jobs
would be drastically diminished.
Ultimately, having essentially rejected most of Dr. Hardy’s conclusions, the ALJ’s
mental residual capacity findings were based upon the ALJ’s layperson assessment of the
claimant’s mental condition.
On remand the ALJ shall reconsider Dr. Hardy’s opinion and perform the appropriate
analysis. If the opinion evidence of record is insufficient for the ALJ to assess the extent of
the claimant’s mental limitations, the ALJ shall order a comprehensive mental status
examination of the claimant. The consultative examiner shall be provided with copies of the
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2)(4).
claimant’s mental health records and be required to give an assessment of the claimant’s
ability to perform the relevant mental work-related activities. In any event, the ALJ shall
conduct another hearing and obtain the necessary vocational evidence. The ALJ may
conduct any additional proceedings not inconsistent with the court’s ruling.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this case is
REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.
This, the 22nd day of June, 2017.
/s/ Jane M. Virden
U. S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?