Greyson v. Colvin
OPINION AND ORDER - 8 Motion for Summary Judgment of Michael Alan Greyson is DENIED as to his request for an award of benefits and GRANTED as to his request for remand ; DENYING 9 Motion for Summary Judgment of Carolyn W Colvin.(Signed by Magistrate Judge John R Froeschner) Parties notified.(sanderson, 3)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
April 18, 2017
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
David J. Bradley, Clerk
MICHAEL ALAN GREYSON
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration
CIVIL ACTION NO. G-15-339
OPINION AND ORDER
After careful consideration the Court now issues this Opinion and Order addressing
the cross Motions for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff, Michael Alan Greyson, and
Defendant, Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security
The Court sees no need to recite at any length the standard of review in a case of
At his request, Plaintiff was afforded a hearing before an Administration Law Judge
(ALJ). The hearing was held on June 4, 2015. Plaintiff was not represented by counsel
at the hearing. Following the hearing the ALJ issued her opinion which held that pursuant
to the five-step sequential evaluation process Plaintiff was not disabled. She determined
at step four of the process that Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a hospital
admissions clerk which is a light sedentary job. The appeals counsel denied review on
October 16, 2015. As a result, the ALJ’s decision was affirmed as the Commissioner’s
final decision. This lawsuit followed.
The issue before the Court is whether substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner’s decision to deny Plaintiff’s application for disability benefits because it
was determined that he could perform his past relevant work and was, therefore, not
disabled under the Social Security Act.
While not the sole basis for her decision, the ALJ gave significant weight to
Plaintiff’s self-reported activities of daily living in a Function Report dated April 11, 2014.
Specifically she found that:
(i)n activities of daily living, the claimant has mild restriction. In his
function report, the claimant reported that he lives with his family. He does
normal parenting duties, feeds and walks his pet, plays sports and coaches
a child.1 He prepares simple meals, does laundry, goes outside three to four
times daily, walks, drives a car, uses public transportation, goes shopping
in stores, uses a computer and reads. He watches sports on television and
visits with friends and family. He can lift 25 pounds, walk 75 yards and
climb two flights of stairs. He can follow instructions most of the time
(Exhibit 1E). Mr. Greyson is totally independent in all activities of daily
living and able to care for himself and his pets.
Mr. Greyson has no more than moderate deficiencies of concentration,
persistence or pace. He is able to follow instructions and complete tasks
once begun as evidenced by his activities of daily living.
The claimant’s activities of daily living are not consistent with the alleged
severity of symptoms.
In fact, playing sports and coaching a child were activities he stated he could no longer
The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff’s “longitudinal medical records as well as the
claimant’s activities of daily living” support a finding that he has the residual functional
capacity to perform his past relevant work. (emphasis added)
The problem with the ALJ’s decision is that it is based so heavily upon Plaintiff’s
self-reported daily activities as of April 11, 2014. A comparison of the Function Report
he submitted that day to the ALJ’s above referenced findings make it clear that she based
her findings almost exclusively on information in that report.
Plaintiff, however, submitted a subsequent Function Report on June 24, 2014,
which indicates a substantial worsening of his symptoms; contradicts, almost completely,
the ALJ’s findings; and is much more consistent with his testimony at the hearing. For
example, Plaintiff no longer performed parental duties, took care of the family dog or did
any laundry. His going outside had been reduced to “5 times a week depending on
appointments and level of pain in knees, back, foot.” His legs become numb after “sitting
or standing more than five minutes.” He described a number of problems he experiences
while getting dressed, bathing, shaving, using the toilet, and exercising beyond “light
stretching.” While he reported he could do “a little sweeping” inside the house, it took
him “up to 20 minutes” to sweep a “10x5 foot area” and “someone else picks up the dirt
with a dustpan.” He is no longer able to do any yard work. He is no longer socializing
with anyone but immediate family members.
He cannot lift over 15 pounds.
experiences pain with standing or walking more than 10 yards. He cannot squat, bend or
kneel. He has difficulty reaching with his left hand. He can only climb 5 stairs before
tiring, and “on a good day” he can only walk 50 feet before having to rest for 2 to 3
minutes.” He has trouble concentrating on tasks, reading and conversations. He often
fails to complete tasks. He needs to study written instructions several times and must have
oral instructions repeated. He no longer writes checks because he makes a lot of errors
in reconciling his check book. On bad days he “may inappropriately interact with any
authority figure.” And he is “irritable and somewhat unfriendly most of the time.”
In her Opinion, the ALJ made no reference to Plaintiff’s most recent Function
Report. Consequently, she gave no specific, cogent reasons why she may have discredited
the information Plaintiff supplied in that Report. See Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 834
(9th Cir. 1995) (The ALJ must identify what evidence undermines the claimant’s
complaints.) In fact, it appears that, in all likelihood, the ALJ simply failed to even see
or review the report. Regardless, the information in the superceding June 24, 2014,
Function Report is significant evidence in the record that detracts from the ALJ’s factual
determinations and conclusions.
In the opinion of this Court the ALJ erred in
characterizing Plaintiff’s daily living activities as documented by the record to reach the
conclusion that Plaintiff was not credible. Nor does the record support the ALJ’s finding
that Plaintiff was able to perform the activities she cited to indicate Plaintiff could still
perform his “past relevant work.” Cf. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721-22 (9th Cir.
1998). As a result, the Court finds that the Commissioner’s decision is not supported by
substantial evidence and must be set aside. See, Leggett v. Chater, 67 F.3d 558, 566 (5th
Cir. 1995) (ALJ has the duty to fully develop the facts or else the decision is not supported
by substantial evidence.)
It is, therefore, ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant,
Carolyn W. Colvin (Instrument no. 9), is DENIED.
It is further ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment (Instrument no.
8) of Plaintiff, Michael Alan Greyson, is DENIED as to his request for an award of
benefits and GRANTED as to his request for remand.
DONE at Galveston, Texas, this
day of April, 2017.
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?