Koczka v. Commissioner of Social Security
JUDGMENT in favor of Alex David Koczka against Commissioner of Social Security. The case is reversed and REMANDED for further proceedings. CASE CLOSED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden on 9/5/17. (ncb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
ALEX DAVID KOCZKA
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
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 and supplemental security
income 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 September 1,
2017, the court finds the ALJ’s decision with respect to the period January 1, 2012, through
April 30, 20141, is not supported by substantial evidence in the record. First, the ALJ’s
determination that the claimant’s mental impairment was not severe is supported by only one
state agency, non-examining physician opinion which, as it happens, conflicts with another
state agency, non-examining physician opinion; the September 29, 2014, medical source
statement (“MSS”) of a treater; and the April 2013 opinions expressed by Paul S. Leonard,
During the hearing counsel for Plaintiff conceded that records establish the claimant was working
from the alleged onset date through 2011.
Ph.D. Indeed, the ALJ made no mention of either the 2014 MSS or Dr. Leonard’s report,
which indicates they were not considered. Nor did the ALJ resolve the apparent conflict
between the two state agency physician opinions.
Second, the ALJ failed to properly consider certain opinions expressed in Dr. Bruce
Randolph’s April 2013 consultative examination report. The ALJ gave no reason whatsoever
for her implicit rejection of Dr. Randolph’s conclusion that the claimant could only “sit with
intermittent standing and walking every 30 minutes as needed.” Additionally, the ALJ
concluded Dr. Randolph’s assessment that the claimant could only occasionally bend, twist,
and squat was inconsistent with treatment notes that indicated the claimant can perform
“bending, twisting, and squatting as a landscaper.” However, this generalized reason provided
by the ALJ in no way undermines Dr. Randolph’s more specific assessment regarding the
frequency at which the claimant could perform said postural activities.
Third, the ALJ indicated she relied mainly upon Dr. Patel’s MSS in setting the
claimant’s residual functional capacity (“RFC”) for the period beginning May 1, 2014. This
RFC, of course, rendered the claimant disabled, and this finding is not here disturbed.
Nevertheless, considering that Dr. Patel’s MSS clearly expresses that the medical opinions
contained therein relate to the period October 1, 2013, through November 10, 2014, and the
fact that the claimant’s complaints and the objective findings made and medications prescribed
by Dr. Patel are consistent from the beginning of his treatment of the claimant through the last
date of treatment in the record, the disability onset date found by the ALJ appears to be quite
arbitrary. And, ultimately, the ALJ gave no reasons for rejecting Dr. Patel’s opinions with
regard to the period he treated the claimant, prior to May 1, 2014.
On remand, the ALJ must reconsider the claimant’s mental and physical impairments
for the period January 1, 2012, through April 30, 2014. Particularly, the ALJ must consider all
of the opinion evidence in the file and provide a detailed discussion of the weight assigned to
each medical opinion. The ALJ must be careful to include a detailed discussion of the
resolution of all conflicts in evidence. If necessary, the ALJ must seek the assistance of a
medical advisor for a determination of whether the onset of disability occurred at an earlier
date. The ALJ may conduct any additional proceedings which are necessary and not
inconsistent with this order.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this case is REVERSED
for the period January 1, 2012, through April 30, 2014, and REMANDED for further
This, the 5th day of September, 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?