Wilson v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM OPINION: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security is REVERSED and that this case is REMANDED under 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3) and Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for reconsideration and further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Signed by Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah on 9/21/16. (ARL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
This is an action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for judicial review of the final
decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, denying
the application of Plaintiff Kimberly Wilson (“Plaintiff”) for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq., and for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq. (the “Act”).
The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). (Doc. 8). Because I cannot conclude that the decision denying benefits was supported by
substantial evidence, I will reverse the Commissioner’s denial of Plaintiff’s application and remand
for further proceedings.
On March 17, 2011, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging that she had been unable to
work since January 1, 2008, due to a learning disability. (Tr. 229-239, 310). The onset date was
later amended to October 1, 2012. (Tr. 74). Plaintiff’s applications were denied initially, and she
filed a request for a hearing. (Tr. 111-20). Plaintiff participated in a hearing, received an
unfavorable decision, and appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, after which the case was
remanded back to the ALJ on September 10, 2013. (Tr. 33-51, 91-104 163-68, 105-08). After a
second hearing, a second unfavorable decision was issued on December 22, 2014. (Tr. 10-32).
Plaintiff filed a request for review of the hearing decision, and on April 1, 2015, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review. (Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative
remedies, and the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration.
A. Plaintiff’s Statements and Testimony
In a Function Report completed on March 27, 2011, Plaintiff stated that she has never been
able to read or write and cannot count money; that she has a hard time understanding directions;
that she is always afraid of looking dumb and being laughed at; and that she has problems with
memory, concentration, completing tasks, following directions, and getting along with others. (Tr.
321, 323-25). She also indicated that she has severe mood swings. (Tr. 326).
Plaintiff testified at a hearing before the ALJ on August 25, 2014. She has completed the
tenth grade and was in special education classes in school. (Tr. 57). She cannot read well enough to
read newspapers or magazines and cannot read or write a grocery list. (Tr. 58). She had to take her
driver’s test fifteen times before she passed it. (Tr. 68). She suffers from depression and from knee
problems. (Tr. 70-71). Plaintiff testified that people at work say she always has an attitude and does
not know how to talk to people. (Tr. 66). She has difficulties getting along with co-workers,
because they use words she does not understand and they laugh at her. (Tr. 66). Plaintiff’s most
recent job was working for a parking company; she got fired after a month because she “supposedly
cussed out some customers.” (Tr. 65). She has also worked in the past as a part-time cook, as a lab
technician (taking care of mice), and as a babysitter. (Tr. 58-59, 64).
B. Plaintiff’s Medical Records
Plaintiff’s treatment records during the relevant period show that she has reported
depression; wanting to hurt herself; poor appetite; thoughts of suicide; difficulty sleeping;
homicidal thoughts; hearing voices, irritability; anger; knee pain; and lower back pain. (Tr. 462,
468, 541, 611, 615, 626, 650, 655). Her diagnoses include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress
disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, alcohol-induced mood disorder, cannabisinduced anxiety disorder, and osteoarthritis of the right knee. (Tr. 463-64, 530, 610, 630).
On April 29, 2011, Plaintiff was seen for a psychological evaluation by Michael T. Armour,
Ph.D. (Tr. 405-14). She was 41 years old at the time of the examination. (Tr. 405). Dr. Armour
noted that Plaintiff reported running away from home for weeks at a time between the ages of nine
and twelve; being in fights as a child and using weapons, including knives; stealing money and
food; bullying others; and being bullied. (Tr. 406). She reported that she had attended school in the
eleventh grade but had not finished that year. (Tr. 406). She indicated that she had been in special
education classes beginning in kindergarten because they had told her that she was a troubled kid
and was dumb. (Tr. 406). Her mood during the examination varied from euthymic to upset and
tearful. (Tr. 409). She reported having an “attitude” and having problems with irritability, sadness,
and feeling empty. (Tr. 409). She reported sleep problems, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and a
past suicide attempt. (Tr. 409).
Dr. Armour conducted testing and found Plaintiff to have a Verbal Comprehension Score of
63; a Perceptual Reasoning score of 82; a Working Memory score of 77; a Processing Speed Index
score of 74; and a Full Scale IQ score of 70. (Tr. 408). Dr. Armour noted that her Full Scale IQ fell
in the low end of the borderline range. (Tr. 408). Dr. Armour’s diagnoses included a reading
disability, posttraumatic stress disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning, and he assigned
Plaintiff a Global Assessment of Functioning score of 50-55. 1 (Tr. 410-11). He found that Plaintiff
had mild to moderate impairment in activities of daily living; mild to moderate impairment in social
functioning; mild to occasionally moderate impairment in concentration, persistence, or pace; and
no episodes of decompensation. (Tr. 411). He opined that Plaintiff had moderate impairment in the
ability to understand and remember instructions; mild to occasionally moderate impairment in the
ability to sustain concentration and persistence in tasks; and moderate impairment in the ability to
interact socially and adapt to her environment. (Tr. 411-12).
On June 10, 2014, F. Timothy Leonberger, Ph.D., conducted a neuropsychological
evaluation of Plaintiff. (Tr. 450-55). He noted that Plaintiff had been in special education classes
beginning in kindergarten and had left high school sometime in eleventh grade. (Tr. 451). She was
suspended for fighting two or more times. (Tr. 451). After performing testing, Dr. Leonberger
found that Plaintiff had Broad Reading, Broad Mathematics, and Broad Written Language scores
that were “all in the extremely low range of functioning” and were “significantly lower than would
be expected, considering her Full Scale IQ score.” (Tr. 453). He diagnosed alcohol abuse, cannabis
abuse, nicotine dependence, reading disorder, disorder of written expression, and borderline
intellectual functioning, and he assigned a GAF score of 50. (Tr. 454). He found that Plaintiff had
The Global Assessment of Functioning (“GAF”) scale is a psychological assessment tool wherein
an examiner is to “[c]onsider psychological, social, and occupational functioning on a hypothetical
continuum of mental health-illness”; it does “not include impairment in functioning due to physical
(or environmental) limitations.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV),
32 (4th ed. 1994). A GAF score between 41 and 50 indicates “[s]erious symptoms (e.g., suicidal
ideation, severe obsessional rituals, frequent shoplifting) OR any serious impairment in social,
occupational, or school functioning (e.g., no friends, unable to keep a job).” Id. A GAF score of 5160 indicates “[m]oderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumstantial speech, occasional panic
attacks) OR moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., few friends,
conflicts with peers or co-workers).” Id.
no impairment to mild impairment in activities of daily living; moderate to marked impairment in
social functioning; moderate to marked impairment in concentration, persistence, and pace; and
moderate impairment in deterioration or decompensation in work or work-like settings. (Tr. 454).
STANDARD FOR DETERMINING DISABILITY UNDER THE ACT
To be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Act, a claimant must prove he or she is
disabled. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001); Baker v. Sec’y of Health &
Human Servs., 955 F.2d 552, 555 (8th Cir. 1992). The Social Security Act defines as disabled a
person who is unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has
lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A); 1382c(a)(3)(A); see also Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010). The
impairment must be “of such severity that [the claimant] is not only unable to do his previous work
but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work
exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A); 1382c(a)(3)(B).
To determine whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner engages in a five-step
evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a); see also McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605,
611 (8th Cir. 2011) (discussing the five-step process). At Step One, the Commissioner determines
whether the claimant is currently engaging in “substantial gainful activity”; if so, then he is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611. At Step Two,
the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a severe impairment, which is “any
impairment or combination of impairments which significantly limits [the claimant’s] physical or
mental ability to do basic work activities”; if the claimant does not have a severe impairment, he is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 404.1520(c), 416.920(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(c); McCoy,
648 F.3d at 611. At Step Three, the Commissioner evaluates whether the claimant’s impairment
meets or equals one of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the
“listings”). 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611. If the
claimant has such an impairment, the Commissioner will find the claimant disabled; if not, the
Commissioner proceeds with the rest of the five-step process. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d),
416.920(d); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611.
Prior to Step Four, the Commissioner must assess the claimant’s “residual functional
capacity” (“RFC”), which is “the most a claimant can do despite [his or her] limitations.” Moore v.
Astrue, 572 F.3d 520, 523 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1)); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). At Step Four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant can
return to his past relevant work, by comparing the claimant’s RFC with the physical and mental
demands of the claimant’s past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 404.1520(f),
416.920(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(f); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611. If the claimant can perform his past
relevant work, he is not disabled; if the claimant cannot, the analysis proceeds to the next step. Id.
At Step Five, the Commissioner considers the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience
to determine whether the claimant can make an adjustment to other work in the national economy;
if the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work, the claimant will be found disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611.
Through Step Four, the burden remains with the claimant to prove that he is disabled.
Moore, 572 F.3d at 523. At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish that, given
the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience, there are a significant number of other
jobs in the national economy that the claimant can perform. Id.; Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062,
1064 (8th Cir. 2012).
THE ALJ’S DECISION
Applying the foregoing five-step analysis, the ALJ here found that Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since October 1, 2012, her amended alleged onset date, and that
Plaintiff had the severe impairments of osteoarthritis of the right knee, degenerative disc disease of
the lumbosacral spine, obesity, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol dependence with alcoholinduced mood disorder, cannabis dependence with cannabis-induced anxiety disorder, borderline
antisocial personality disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, and learning disorder for reading
and written expression. (Tr. 16). The ALJ then found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“the Listings”). (Tr. 16). The ALJ found
that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20 §§ CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), except that Plaintiff can only occasionally climb stairs and ramps but never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolding; can only occasionally crouch, kneel, and crawl; can only perform
unskilled work with simple routine tasks primarily dealing with things rather than people; can
occasionally relate with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public at work; and is limited to
work with goals, not strict fast-paced production quotas. (Tr. 18-19).
Plaintiff challenges the ALJ’s decision on two grounds: (1) that the ALJ erred by failing to
consider whether Plaintiff met or equaled Listing 12.05C; and (2) the ALJ erred by failing to weigh
the opinion of the consultative examiner, Dr. Leonberger.
A. Standard for Judicial Review
The decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed if it complies with the relevant legal
requirements and is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. See 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g); 1383(c)(3); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Estes v. Barnhart, 275
F.3d 722, 724 (8th Cir. 2002); Pate-Fires v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 935, 942 (8th Cir. 2009). “Substantial
evidence ‘is less than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate
to support a conclusion.’” Renstrom v. Astrue, 680 F.3d 1057, 1063 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Moore, 572 F.3d at 522). In determining whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner’s
decision, the court considers both evidence that supports that decision and evidence that detracts
from that decision. Id. However, the court “‘do[es] not reweigh the evidence presented to the ALJ,
and [it] defer[s] to the ALJ’s determinations regarding the credibility of testimony, as long as those
determinations are supported by good reasons and substantial evidence.’” Id. at 1064 (quoting
Gonzales v. Barnhart, 465 F.3d 890, 894 (8th Cir. 2006)). “‘If, after reviewing the record, the court
finds it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the ALJ’s findings, the court must affirm the ALJ’s decision.’” Partee v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir. 2005)).
B. Remand Is Required for the ALJ to Consider Whether Plaintiff Meets or
Equals Listing 12.05C
Plaintiff’s first argument is that the ALJ erred by failing to consider whether Plaintiff met or
equaled Listing 12.05C, one of the listings covering intellectual disabilities. The Court agrees.
To meet Listing 12.05C, a claimant must show “(1) a valid verbal, performance, or full
scale IQ of 60[-]70; (2) an additional ‘severe’ impairment [a physical or other mental impairment
imposing an additional and significant work-related limitation of function]; and (3) evidence
supporting the onset of intellectual and adaptive functioning disability before age twenty-two.” Lott
v. Colvin, 772 F.3d 546, 550 (8th Cir. 2014) (citing Maresh v. Barnhart, 438 F.3d 897, 899 (8th
Cir. 2006)); see also 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, subpt. P, app’x 1 § 12.05. The burden is on Plaintiff to
demonstrate that her impairment matches all the specified criteria of a listing. McDade v. Astrue,
720 F.3d 994, 1001 (8th Cir. 2013).
The ALJ here considered whether Plaintiff met two other listed impairments, but he did not
consider whether Plaintiff met Listing 12.05C. The ALJ’s failure to discuss a specific listing is not
reversible error if the record supports the overall conclusion that Plaintiff does not meet the Listing.
However, remand is required where the ALJ’s findings, considered in light of the record as a
whole, are insufficient to permit a finding by the court that substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner’s decision. See Chunn v. Barnhart, 397 F.3d 667, 672 (8th Cir. 2005) (remanding
for further consideration and findings with regard to Listing 12.05C where the ALJ did not address
Listing 12.05C and where, after review of the record, the court could not conclude that the ALJ’s
decision was supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole); see also Pannell v.
Colvin, No. 1:14 CV 151 DDN, 2015 WL 4887668, at *8 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 17, 2015) (“[T]he Eighth
Circuit has also held that a remand is required where the ALJ’s conclusions, considered in light of
the record as a whole, are insufficient to permit a finding by the court that substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner’s decision.”) (citing Pettit v. Apfel, 218 F.3d 901, 903-04 (8th Cir.
2000) and Chunn, 397 F.3d at 672 (8th Cir. 2005)).
Here, the ALJ’s findings and the record as a whole are insufficient to permit this Court to
find that substantial evidence supports the Commissioner’s decision that Plaintiff does not meet or
equal Listing 12.05(C). It appears from the record that each element of Listing 12.05C is, or at least
may be, satisfied here. The first element appears to be met, because Plaintiff’s IQ test showed that
Plaintiff has a verbal comprehension score of 63 and a full scale IQ score of 70—both scores within
the range described in Listing 12.05C. (Tr. 408). The consultative examiner who conducted
Plaintiff’s IQ testing noted that “the current evaluation appears to be a valid sample of her current
level of functioning.” (Tr. 408). The second element of Listing 12.05C is met, because the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had several severe impairments in addition to her intellectual impairments—
including osteoarthritis of the right knee, degenerative disc disease of the lumbosacral spine, post-
traumatic stress disorder, and borderline antisocial personality disorder—and he imposed
limitations reflecting those impairments. (Tr. 16, 18-19). It appears that the third element may also
be met, because the record contains evidence that Plaintiff had significant deficits in IQ and
adaptive functioning prior to the age of twenty-two. Although Plaintiff’s IQ scores were obtained
when she was well over the age of twenty-two, the Eighth Circuit has repeatedly held that “a
person’s IQ is presumed to remain stable over time in the absence of any evidence of a change in a
claimant’s intellectual functioning.” Maresh, 438 F.3d at 900 (quoting Muncy v. Apfel, 247 F.3d
728, 734 (8th Cir. 2001)). Additionally, the record shows that Plaintiff was in special education
classes starting in kindergarten; that she dropped out of school during the eleventh grade; that she
has always had very little ability to read or write; and that she had difficulties with bullying,
stealing, and fighting as a child. (Tr. 321, 406, 451, 615). Together, this evidence suggests that
Plaintiff had intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits that manifested themselves before the age
of 22. See Reed v. Colvin, 779 F.3d 725, 727 (8th Cir. 2015) (finding that evidence of attending
special education classes, repeating several grades, and having problems with math and learning to
read constituted evidence that mental retardation manifested itself before age 22); Maresh, 438 F.3d
at 900 (finding that evidence of taking special education classes, dropping out of school, having
trouble with reading, writing, and math, and having frequent fights with other children constituted
evidence of mental retardation with deficits in adaptive functioning prior to age 22).
The Commissioner emphasizes that the ALJ need not rely exclusively on IQ scores to assess
whether a clamant meets a listing, and she argues that the ALJ did not find that Plaintiff’s verbal
comprehension score of 63 and full scale IQ of 70 were a valid reflection of Plaintiff’s functioning.
However, it is not at all clear that the ALJ so found. The ALJ mentioned Plaintiff’s IQ scores, but
he did not discuss whether or not he found them valid or reflective of Plaintiff’s functioning, nor
did he expressly assess them with respect to Listing 12.05C. That distinguishes the instant case
from the cases relied on by the Commissioner, in which the ALJ expressly considered Listing
12.05C and addressed the reliability of the IQ scores in the record. See Peterson v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., 552 F. App’x 533, 537 (6th Cir. 2014) (affirming the decision of the Commissioner where, in
finding that Plaintiff did not meet Listing 12.05C, the ALJ specifically discussed Plaintiff’s IQ test,
“emphasizing the questionable reliability of its results because of Peterson’s variable effort, and
further noted that the record failed to demonstrate that Peterson’s IQ was in the range of 60 to 70
before age twenty-two” ); Miles v. Barnhart, 374 F.3d 694, 698-99 (8th Cir. 2004) (affirming
where “the ALJ found that [the plaintiff] had not met § 12.05 of the Listing of Impairments” and in
doing so “discounted the IQ score of 59” for several reasons stated in the ALJ’s decision).; Clark v.
Apfel, 141 F.3d 1253, 1255-56 (8th Cir. 1998) (affirming the ALJ’s decision to reject IQ scores of
66 and 67 where the ALJ expressly found the IQ score not credible in light of several factors and
that finding was supported by the record.).
Here, despite the presence of IQ scores in the relevant range, the ALJ did not provide any
reason for discounting Plaintiff’s IQ scores and did not specifically address Listing 12.05C. Such
circumstances often warrant remand. See Chunn, 397 F.3d at 672 (noting conflicting evidence in
the record and finding that the court “cannot conclude that the decision is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole” because “the ALJ failed to support his finding on step three that
[the plaintiff’s] impairments did not equal a listed impairment, and it is not clear from his decision
that he even considered whether [the plaintiff] met the requirements for listing 12.05C”); Muncy v.
Apfel, 247 F.3d 728, 733-35 (8th Cir. 2001) (noting that “[a]n ALJ may disregard a claimant’s IQ
score when it is derived from a one-time examination by a non-treating psychologist, particularly if
the score is inconsistent with the claimant’s daily activities and behavior,” but remanding because
the ALJ “neither addressed the discrepancy between [the plaintiff’s] two IQ scores nor discussed
what factors called into question the first score’s validity”); Murphy v. Colvin, No. 1:12-CV-01099,
2013 WL 4198345, at *4 (W.D. Ark. Aug. 15, 2013) (remanding where the ALJ failed to explain
why he did not credit IQ scores of 67 through 70 in evaluating whether Plaintiff met Listing
12.05C; stating, “an ALJ may reject IQ scores that are inconsistent with the record but he must
provide a legitimate basis for his decision”).
The Commissioner also emphasizes that Plaintiff was diagnosed with borderline functioning
and not with mental retardation. The Commissioner argues that a finding of borderline intellectual
functioning is inconsistent with a finding of mental retardation, because according to the DSM-IV,
those two diagnoses describe different degrees of severity of the same general medical condition.
However, the Commissioner’s reliance on the DSM-IV and on Plaintiff’s formal diagnoses is
misplaced. In Maresh, the Eighth Circuit rejected the Commissioner’s argument that the plaintiff
did not meet Listing 12.05 because he did not meet the DSM-IV definition of mental retardation,
noting that in revising the Listings in 2002, “the Commissioner rejected a proposal that the DSM’s
definition be used for Listing 12.05.” 438 F.3d at 899. The Eighth Circuit also expressly rejected
the Commissioner’s argument that Listing 12.05 requires a formal diagnosis of mental retardation.
Id. The Court acknowledges that on remand, the ALJ may find that Plaintiff’s borderline
intellectual functioning diagnosis, and the absence of a mental retardation diagnosis, has some
probative value with regard to Plaintiff’s level of functioning. See, e.g., Peterson, 552 F. App’x at
539 (“Although [a mild mental retardation] diagnosis is not a necessary prerequisite to satisfy
Listing 12.05, its absence is probative for a 12.05C determination.”). However, on the current
record, which involves IQ scores within the range described in Listing 12.05C and no express
discussion of this issue by the ALJ, the Court cannot find that the diagnosis of borderline
intellectual functioning constitutes substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s decision.
For all of the above reasons, the ALJ’s findings and the record as a whole are insufficient to
permit this Court to find that substantial evidence supports the Commissioner’s decision that
Plaintiff does not meet or equal Listing 12.05C. Thus, the Court finds that remand is necessary for
the ALJ to consider whether Plaintiff meets or equals Listing 12.05C.
C. The Opinion of Dr. Leonberger
Plaintiff’s second argument is that the ALJ erred by failing to weigh the opinion of the
consultative examiner, Dr. Leonberger. In light of the need for remand at Step Three, the Court
need not decide whether this issue requires remand. On remand, the ALJ should ensure that he
evaluates Dr. Leonberger’s opinion in a manner consistent with 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c) and
416.927(c), as well as Social Security Ruling 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *7 (1996).
For the reasons set forth above, the Court cannot find that the decision of the Commissioner
is supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security is REVERSED and that this case is REMANDED under 42
U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3) and Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for reconsideration and further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 21st day of September, 2016.
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