Calbert v. Social Security Administration
OPINION AND ORDER by Magistrate Judge Steven P. Shreder reversing and remanding the decision of the ALJ. (tmb, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
ROBERT LEE CALBERT, JR.,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,
Acting Commissioner of the Social )
Security Administration, 1
Case No. CIV-16-126-SPS
OPINION AND ORDER
The claimant Robert Lee Calbert, Jr., requests judicial review of a denial of
benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
He appeals the Commissioner’s decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in determining he was not disabled. For the
reasons set forth below, the Commissioner’s decision is hereby REVERSED and the case
is REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.
Social Security Law and Standard of Review
Disability under the Social Security Act is defined as the “inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). A claimant is disabled under the
Social Security Act “only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
On January 23, 2017, Nancy A. Berryhill became the Acting Commissioner of Social Security.
In accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d), Ms. Berryhill is substituted for Carolyn Colvin as the
Defendant in this action.
severity that he 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[.]” Id. § 423 (d)(2)(A). Social security regulations
implement a five-step sequential process to evaluate a disability claim. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. 2
Section 405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the Commissioner’s decision
to two inquiries: whether the decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v. Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th
Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is “‘more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.’”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971), quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938); see also Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009 (10th
Cir. 1996). The Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its discretion for the
Commissioner’s. See Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and “[t]he
Step One requires the claimant to establish that he is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity. Step Two requires the claimant to establish that he has a medically severe impairment
(or combination of impairments) that significantly limits his ability to do basic work activities. If
the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, or his impairment is not medically severe,
disability benefits are denied. If he does have a medically severe impairment, it is measured at
step three against the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. If the claimant
has a listed (or “medically equivalent”) impairment, he is regarded as disabled and awarded
benefits without further inquiry. Otherwise, the evaluation proceeds to step four, where the
claimant must show that he lacks the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to return to his past
relevant work. At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show there is significant
work in the national economy that the claimant can perform, given his age, education, work
experience, and RFC. Disability benefits are denied if the claimant can return to any of his past
relevant work or if his RFC does not preclude alternative work. See generally Williams v.
Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-51 (10th Cir. 1988).
substantiality of evidence must take into account whatever in the record fairly detracts
from its weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also
Casias, 933 F.2d at 800-01.
The claimant was born April 3, 1970, and was forty-five years old at the time of
the administrative hearing (Tr. 757). He earned a GED, and has past relevant work as a
donut maker, manager of a restaurant, and short order cook (Tr. 180, 722). The claimant
alleges that he has been unable to work since September 14, 2011, due to major
depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol addiction, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma (Tr. 179).
The claimant applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and for supplemental security income benefits under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85, on November 23, 2011. His
applications were denied. ALJ Bernard Porter conducted an administrative hearing and
found that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated September 24, 2013
(Tr. 7-31). The Appeals Council denied review, but this Court reversed in Case No. CIV14-489-SPS, and remanded upon motion by the Commissioner (Tr. 843-848). Upon
remand, the Appeals Council instructed the ALJ to, inter alia, further evaluate the
claimant’s mental impairments and give further consideration to the claimant’s maximum
RFC (Tr. 852). On remand, ALJ David W. Engel held a second administrative hearing
and again determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated
January 27, 2016 (Tr. 690-724). The Appeals Council denied review, so ALJ Engel’s
written opinion is the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of this appeal. See
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
Decision of the Administrative Law Judge
The ALJ made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation. He found that
the claimant retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform “between light
work and sedentary work, i. e., he could lift/carry/push/pull twenty pounds occasionally
and ten pounds frequently, stand/walk two hours total in an eight-hour workday with
regular breaks, and sit for six hours total with regular breaks, but he could only
occasionally climb ramps/stairs, bend, stoop, crouch, crawl, perform overhead reaching,
and use foot pedals and he could never climb ropes/ladders/scaffolds or be exposed to
unprotected heights, dangerous moving machinery parts ,or environments where he
would be exposed to extremes of temperature. Furthermore, the ALJ determined that the
claimant could understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions in a work-related
setting, but could only occasionally interact with the general public (regardless of
whether interaction took place on the telephone or not), and he could remain attentive and
responsive in a work setting and would be able to perform work assignments within these
limitations (Tr. 707-708). The ALJ concluded that although the claimant could not return
to his past relevant work as a driver, he was nevertheless not disabled because there was
work he could perform in the regional and national economy, i. e., clerical mailer,
assembler, and stuffer (Tr. 722-724).
The claimant’s sole contention of error is that the ALJ erred by improperly
rejecting a number of opinions from his treating physician, Dr. Terry Hoyt. The Court
agrees with the claimant’s contention and finds that the decision of the Commissioner
should therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further analysis.
ALJ Engel determined that the claimant’s severe impairments were chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, right ankle sprain, depression, anxiety with panic attacks,
and drug and/or alcohol abuse (Tr. 696). Relevant medical records reflect that Dr. Hoyt
treated the claimant for a number of years, until approximately 2015 when he passed
away (Tr. 490-494, 588-593, 619, 641-642, 1153-1169). Dr. Cary Sullivan took over the
claimant’s treatment at that time.
In February 2011, the claimant received treatment at CREOKS Mental Health
facility in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, reporting increasing depression over the previous few
months (Tr. 477). He was assessed with major depression, moderate, recurrent, and
alcohol abuse, and he was assessed a global assessment of functioning (GAF) score of 55
(Tr. 479-480). He was noted to have limited insight, but had a good prognosis if he was
willing to engage in treatment and be committed to recovery (Tr. 482). He was then sent
to Laureate for inpatient treatment from February 13-16, 2011 (Tr. 1054-1085). On June
7, 2011, the claimant was reported to be a danger to himself and others and a petition for
involuntary commitment was submitted. The claimant’s provisional diagnoses were:
depression, alcoholism II, hypertension, and seizures that were likely alcohol induced,
and he was assessed a GAF score of 70 (Tr. 363-364, 367).
On January 21, 2012, Dr. Beth Jeffries, Ph.D., conducted a mental status
examination of the claimant (Tr. 485). Noting that the claimant reported a traumatic
brain injury at the age of nine years old, Dr. Jeffries stated that neuropsychological
testing could provide more specific information in that regard, but she noted that his
memory and concentration appeared to be intact (Tr. 487). Dr. Jeffries, in discussing the
claimant’s appearance and behavior, stating that the claimant’s “sincerity was questioned
at time in the valuation.” (Tr. 486).
She further recommended continued treatment at
CREOKS, but with the addition of substance abuse treatment, noting that it was “nearly
impossible” to make a good assessment of his moods apart from substance abuse, and
that he would not likely have good mood control while abusing alcohol (Tr. 487). She
did not believe he would be able to manage benefit payments in his own interest
(Tr. 488). On March 9, 2012, the claimant reported having increased anxiety in public
On April 11, 2012, S.C. Williams White reviewed the record and determined that
the claimant was moderately limited in the ability to understand and remember detailed
instructions, carry out detailed instructions, maintain attention and concentration for
extended periods, interact appropriately with the general public, and respond
appropriately to changes in the work setting (Tr. 509-510).
S.C. Williams White
concluded that the claimant could perform simple, unskilled work related activities with
sustainability, and that he was capable of low stress social situations and adapting to
routine change (Tr. 511).
Treatment notes from CREOKS reflect that on May 16, 2013, both the claimant
and his therapist reported increased irritability, severe depression, and high anxiety
On October 8, 2014, he was still reporting insomnia, anger spells,
nightmares, a decrease in appetite, and a lot of panic attacks and headaches (Tr. 1294).
He had begun refusing group therapy because he did not like to be around people, and
there was a concern with prescribing further medications until the claimant had been
assessed by the crisis team (Tr. 1294).
On May 14, 2012, Dr. Hoyt completed a medical opinion regarding absences for
work for the claimant, indicating that he would be absent about three or more days per
month (the highest option available) due to joint stiffness, neuropathy with numbness and
tingling in hand and feet, and that he may have days where he has difficulty with
concentration and the ability to focus (Tr. 531). That same day, he completed a Medical
Opinion RE: Basic Unskilled Work Requirements, indicating that the claimant could not
deal with changes in a routine work setting, could not maintain concentration and
attention for extended periods in a routine work setting, or handle normal work stress in a
routine work setting, and that his impairments would cause him to take unscheduled
breaks during an eight-hour workday, and that his limitations would be present in the
absence of any substance abuse (Tr. 532). He believed the claimant could manage
benefits in his own interests (Tr. 532). In support, Dr. Hoyt cited to the claimant’s
arthralgias and numbness, the fluctuating ability to concentrate and deal with work stress
due to encephalopathy and post-traumatic stress disorder (Tr. 532).
On May 18, 2012, Dr. Hoyt completed a Mental RFC Questionnaire, in which he
indicated, inter alia, that the claimant’s diagnoses were generalized anxiety disorder and
alcohol abuse, unspecified, and that his current GAF was 45, with a highest GAF in the
past year of 60 (Tr. 533). Under clinical findings, he indicated that the claimant had
difficulty staying on task at times, as well as problems with concentration, and gave the
claimant a fair prognosis, indicating that he could expect recurrent problem episodes
(Tr. 533). He checked 5 boxes of areas indicating the claimant was seriously limited, but
not precluded, including the areas of completing a normal workday and workweek
without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms, and dealing with normal
work stress (Tr. 534). Included in the signs and symptoms were generalized persistent
anxiety, mood disturbance, difficulty thinking or concentrating, and substance
dependence (Tr. 535). Furthermore, he indicated that the claimant was unable to meet
competitive standards with regard to interacting appropriately with the general public,
maintaining socially appropriate behavior, and adhering to basic standards of neatness
and cleanliness (Tr. 536). He also stated that the claimant would be absent more than
four days per month, that the claimant was not a malingerer, and that substance abuse
contributed to his limitations (Tr. 537).
On September 20, 2013, Dr. Hoyt completed another Medical Opinion regarding
the claimant’s absences from work, again checking the box to indicate he would be
absent three or more days per month, the highest number available (Tr. 634). He stated
that the claimant’s osteoarthritis, COPD, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression
would all contribute to these absences (Tr. 634). Three days later, he also completed
another Medical Opinion regarding Basic Unskilled Work Requirements, in which he
made essentially the same indications as in May 2012, and indicated that the claimant’s
physical limitations, poor tolerance to stress, and limited ability to concentrate all
contributed to these limitations (Tr. 635).
On September 24, 2013, Dr. Hoyt completed another Mental RFC assessment, in
which he indicated that the claimant’s diagnoses were major depressive affective
disorder, recurrent, moderate, and hallucinogen intoxication, alcohol abuse in remission,
and a psychosis disorder, along with a current GAF of 28 (Tr. 636). He indicated that
signs included difficulty thinking or concentrating and decreased energy, and that the
claimant was unable to meet competitive standards in seven areas, including maintaining
attention for a two-hour segment, responding appropriately to changes in a routine work
setting, and dealing with normal work stress, as well as the ability to carry out detailed
instructions (Tr. 637-638).
He further indicated the claimant had the limited, but
satisfactory ability to interact appropriately with the general public (Tr. 639). Dr. Hoyt
further indicated that the claimant’s tolerance/compensation of pain and physical
limitations greatly impacted him during periods of increased depression (Tr. 639). He
again indicated the claimant would be absent from work more than four days per month
and that his condition was expected to last more than twelve months, and stated under
additional reasons for difficulty at a regular job on a sustained basis that, “again, issue of
consistency, fluctuating mood swings.” (Tr. 640). He indicated that he believed the
claimant’s mental impairments were the result of the claimant’s years of substance abuse
Treatment notes from Dr. Sullivan (Dr. Hoyt’s successor) in 2015 indicate that the
claimant denied suicidal ideation and reported doing well with therapy twice a month,
and the claimant was advised to continue counseling and psych (Tr. 743-745). On July 7,
2015, Dr. Sullivan completed a physical RFC assessment for the claimant, noting his
diagnoses included COPD, depression, and allergic rhinitis, and that he had a fair
prognosis (Tr. 1466). He noted that the claimant’s psychological condition of depression
affected his symptoms and functional limitations, and that the claimant’s experience of
pain would also occasionally interfere with his attention and concentration (Tr. 1467).
He indicated, inter alia, that the claimant was capable of low stress jobs, that the claimant
could sit and stand/walk each less than two hour total in an eight-hour workday, that he
needed a sit/stand at will option, and that he would need to take unscheduled breaks
(Tr. 1468). Furthermore, he indicated that the claimant could only occasionally lift/carry
ten pounds or less, perform postural activities, and that the claimant would likely be
absent about one day per month (Tr. 1468-1469). However, he also completed a separate
form regarding absences from work, in which he indicated that the claimant would be
absent from work three or more days per month, due to pulmonary function problems,
and COPD (Tr. 1490).
On April 30, 2015, Dr. Jimmie W. Taylor completed a consultative physical
examination of the claimant (Tr. 1431).
His impression was:
agoraphobia, COPD, asthma, exercise intolerance, PTSD, history of memory loss,
reduced vision, chronic bronchitis, and tobacco addiction (Tr. 1433).
In his written opinion, ALJ Engel extensively summarized the claimant’s hearing
testimony and the medical evidence in the record. As to Dr. Hoyt’s opinions, the ALJ
summarized each of his opinions, as well as much of his treatment records (Tr. 709-713).
The ALJ then determined that the claimant was credible enough to find that he could not
perform more than work between the light and sedentary RFC (Tr. 715). In a lengthy
discussion of Dr. Hoyt’s opinions, the ALJ gave:
(i) little weight to Dr. Hoyt’s
statements that the claimant’s mood fluctuated and that he was unstable, stating that
“fluctuated” is a vague term and Dr. Hoyt is not a mental health professional; (ii) little
weight to the opinion (made more than once) that the claimant would miss three or more
days of work a month, finding it conjecture and “not medical fact”; (iii) some weight to
the statement that the claimant would be unable to meet competitive standards for
interacting with the general public; (iv) great weight to the finding that the claimant was
capable of basic unskilled work, making simple decisions in a routine work setting, and
responding appropriately to supervision and co-workers in a routine work setting;
(v) little weight to the statement that the claimant could not deal with changes or normal
work stress, finding it inconsistent with the record (to which he generally cited large
portions without stating what the inconsistencies were), and noting again (and repeatedly)
that Dr. Hoyt is not a mental health professional; (vi) little weight to the statements that
the claimant was seriously limited, but not precluded, from understanding and
remembering very short and simple instructions, maintaining regular attendance and
punctuality, and making simple work-related decisions; and (vii) further made the finding
that the term “seriously limited” was also vague and inconsistent with the record (again
citing large swaths of the record without stating which portions aided in determining
inconsistency). Of note, despite finding the claimant’s depression, anxiety with panic
attacks, and drug and/or alcohol abuse to be severe impairments at step two, the ALJ
stated at step four that the claimant’s “mental impairment, which was the basis of the
Court remand, appears to have fallen by the wayside.” (Tr. 696, 716). In support, the
ALJ found that the claimant “admitted” to doing well in 2015, and blamed the claimant’s
worsening of symptoms to noncompliance at times and also to the drug and/or alcohol
abuse. Furthermore, the ALJ noted Dr. Jeffries’ statements in 2012, interpreting her
statement that the she questioned the claimant’s sincerity as an indicator that the claimant
might be malingering, and alleging record tampering because the CREOKS records were
redacted of all references to substance abuse (Tr. 716-717).
On appeal, the claimant contends that the ALJ improperly disregarded Dr. Hoyt’s
findings and based his disregard of Dr. Hoyt’s opinions on his own speculative opinions.
The medical opinions of treating physicians are entitled to controlling weight if they are
“well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques”
and “consistent with other substantial evidence in the record.” Langley v. Barnhart, 373
F.3d 1116, 1119 (10th Cir. 2004), quoting Watkins v. Barnhart, 350 F.3d 1297, 1300
(10th Cir. 2003). When a treating physician’s opinion is not entitled to controlling
weight, the ALJ must determine the proper weight. The pertinent factors include the
following: (i) the length of the treatment relationship and the frequency of examination;
(ii) the nature and extent of the treatment relationship, including the treatment provided
and the kind of examination or testing performed; (iii) the degree to which the
physician’s opinion is supported by relevant evidence; (iv) consistency between the
opinion and the record as a whole; (v) whether or not the physician is a specialist in the
area upon which an opinion is rendered; and (vi) other factors brought to the ALJ’s
attention which tend to support or contradict the opinion. Watkins, 350 F.3d at 13001301, citing Drapeau v. Massanari, 255 F.3d 1211, 1213 (10th Cir. 2001). If the ALJ
decides to reject a treating physician’s opinion entirely, he is required to “give specific,
legitimate reasons for doing so.” Id. at 1301 [quotations and citations omitted]. In sum,
it must be “clear to any subsequent reviewers the weight the [ALJ] gave to the treating
source’s medical opinion and the reasons for that weight.” Id. at 1300, citing Soc. Sec.
Rul. 96-2p, 1996 WL 374188, at *5 (July 2, 1996).
The ALJ was required to evaluate for controlling weight any opinions as to the
claimant’s functional limitations expressed by his treating physicians. Although the ALJ
noted the proper analysis in step four, he failed to properly apply it in this case. The error
first occurred when the ALJ determined that the claimant had multiple severe mental
impairments, then concluded that the mental impairments had “fallen by the wayside”
based on a few positive reports. This was a significant omission here because these
limitations discussed directly impact the claimant’s ability to perform work. Indeed, the
ALJ devoted much of his discussion at step four to questioning his determination at step
two, i. e., the severity of these impairments, and further finding him partially not credible
because of, inter alia, drug use. See McCleave v. Colvin, 2013 WL 4840477, at *6 n.6
(W.D. Okla. Sept. 10, 2013) (“Additionally, the ALJ found Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints not credible in part because of evidence of her noncompliance with prescribed
psychotropic medications. However, the ALJ did not consider whether Plaintiff had an
acceptable reason for failing to follow her prescribed treatment, which could include her
bipolar disorder.”) [emphasis added], citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1530(c), 416.930(c) and
Jelinek v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 805, 814 (7th Cir. 2011) (“ALJ’s assessing claimants with
bipolar disorder must consider possible alternative explanations before concluding that
non-compliance with medication supports an adverse credibility inference.”). Instead,
the ALJ should have explained why the claimant’s severe mental impairments did not
call for corresponding limitations in the RFC. See Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1010
(10th Cir. 1996) (“[I]n addition to discussing the evidence supporting his decision, the
ALJ also must discuss the uncontroverted evidence he chooses not to rely upon, as well
as the significantly probative evidence that he rejects.”), citing Vincent ex rel. Vincent v.
Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir 1984).
The error was compounded by the ALJ’s errors specifically in regard to his
assessment of Dr. Hoyt’s opinions, including his perplexing finding that Dr. Hoyt’s
multiple statements regarding the amount of time the claimant would miss work was
merely conjecture (and completely ignoring the fact that Dr. Sullivan made a similar
finding), and his conclusion that Dr. Hoyt’s use of the terms “fluctuating” and “seriously
limited” were vague. The Commissioner herself acknowledges that these statements do
not reflect Social Security regulations or standards, but characterizes them as “perhaps
ill-advised” and insufficient to support a remand. The Court disagrees. Despite the
length of the opinion prepared by the ALJ, including the details of almost every medical
appointment contained in the record, the ALJ’s analysis falls short. Both Dr. Hoyt and
Dr. Sullivan found that the claimant would be absent from work more than three or four
days each month, yet the ALJ ignored Dr. Sullivan’s findings (but assigned controlling
weight to his opinion regarding the claimant’s COPD (Tr. 721)), while characterizing Dr.
Hoyt’s as “conjecture.” Briggs ex rel. Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1239 (10th
Cir. 2001) (“Although the ALJ need not discuss all of the evidence in the record, he may
not ignore evidence that does not support his decision, especially when that evidence is
‘significantly probative.’”). Although it was proper for the ALJ to note that Dr. Hoyt is
not a mental health professional, the ALJ failed to take into account other factors,
including the longitudinal relationship Dr. Hoyt had with the claimant as well as the fact
that the limitations Dr. Hoyt noted were based, not solely on his mental impairments, but
on the combination of physical and mental impairments, and that they were affected by
his substance abuse.
Moreover, the ALJ’s rejection of Dr. Hoyt’s use of the term
“fluctuating” belies the fact that the record reflects inpatient treatment for suicidal
ideation in 2011 and reports of worsening symptoms at times in the record, interspersed
with the reports that the claimant was doing well. The ALJ attempts to paint this as
solely due to the claimant’s reactions to his mother’s cancer diagnoses and her death
several years later, and further fails to account for the effect of the claimant’s substance
abuse on his mental impairments – which the record indicates would still exist even in the
absence of substance abuse.
Additionally, the RFC does not reflect that the ALJ accounted for the claimant’s
severe impairments involving substance abuse at all, nor does he explain how his
substance abuse impairments in combination with his mental impairments affected his
RFC. “When the ALJ has failed to comply with SSR 96-8p because he has not linked his
RFC determination with specific evidence in the record, the court cannot adequately
assess whether relevant evidence supports the ALJ's RFC determination.” Jagodzinski v.
Colvin, 2013 WL 4849101, at *2 (D. Kan. Sept. 11, 2013), citing Brown v. Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration, 245 F. Supp. 2d 1175, 1187 (D. Kan. 2003).
“[T]he ALJ's RFC assessment must include a narrative discussion describing how the
evidence supports each conclusion, citing specific medical facts ... and nonmedical
evidence.” Wells v. Colvin, 727 F.3d 1061, 1065 (10th Cir. 2013), quoting Soc. Sec. Rul.
96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *7.
In sum, the errors the Commissioner characterizes as “ill-advised” are actually
reversible where, as here, the ALJ appeared to adopt any statement that the claimant
could perform unskilled work while rejecting any portion of the evidence to suggest
further impairment. See Hardman v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 676, 681 (10th Cir. 2004)
(noting that the ALJ may not “pick and choose among medical reports, using portions of
evidence favorable to his position while ignoring other evidence.”), citing Switzer v.
Heckler, 742 F.2d 382, 385-386 (7th Cir. 1984) (“Th[e] report is uncontradicted and the
Secretary’s attempt to use only the portions favorable to her position, while ignoring
other parts, is improper.”) [citations omitted]. Because the ALJ failed to properly analyze
evidence of record as to the claimant’s mental limitations, the Commissioner’s decision
must be reversed and the case remanded for further analysis by the ALJ. If such analysis
results in adjustments to the claimant’s RFC, the ALJ should re-determine what work the
claimant can perform, if any, and ultimately whether he is disabled.
The Court hereby FINDS that correct legal standards were not applied by the ALJ,
and the Commissioner’s decision is therefore not supported by substantial evidence. The
decision of the Commissioner is accordingly REVERSED and the case is REMANDED
for further proceedings consistent herewith.
DATED this 25th day of September, 2017.
STEVEN P. SHREDER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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