United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. Peterson, District Judge.
Brad Lee Beaudreau seeks judicial review of a final decision
of defendant Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration, finding Beaudreau not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
Beaudreau contends that the administrative law judge erred in
three ways: (1) giving too much weight to statements of an
examining physician who questioned Beaudreau's
credibility; (2) failing to give enough weight to other
opinions in the record; and (3) failing to account for any
mental impairments in the residual functional capacity
assessment. The court rejects each contention and will affirm
the commissioner's decision and cancel the oral argument
scheduled for May 30, 2019.
found that Beaudreau suffered from several severe physical
impairments, including obesity, degenerative joint disease,
neuropathy, and diabetes. He also considered potential
impairments related to “four broad areas of mental
functioning”: (1) understanding, remembering, and
applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3)
concentrating, persisting, and maintaining pace; and (4)
adapting and managing oneself. R. 17-18. But the ALJ
concluded that Beaudreau didn't suffer from “more
than minimal limitation in [his] ability to perform basic
mental work activities, ” so any mental impairments he
had were “nonsevere.” R. 17. And, despite
Beaudreau's physical limitations, the ALJ found that
Beaudreau was not disabled because he retained the ability to
perform his past work as a security guard.
doesn't challenge any of the ALJ's findings about
Beaudreau's physical impairments, so the court will not
consider those. Instead, Beaudreau says that the ALJ made
three errors in the way he handled evidence about his mental
impairments caused by a 1996 head injury. The court will
consider each alleged error in turn.
Reliance on David McKee's opinion
is a neurologist who examined Beaudreau in July 2015 but
found no evidence of impairment. R. 461-62. Beaudreau says
that “nearly all of ALJ [David] Washington's
decision revolved around” McKee's determination
that Beaudreau was exaggerating his symptoms and that the
ALJ's reliance on McKee's assessment was improper
because the assessment was not supported by the evidence.
Beaudreau is wrong on both counts.
true that McKee expressed skepticism about the severity of
Beaudreau's symptoms. In his summary of his examination
of Beaudreau, McKee made the following observations:
• Beaudreau “quickly made it clear that his reason
for coming today is that he was recently denied disability
status before a judge in Wisconsin. He related that his
lawyer told him that his best chance of getting disability
would be to see lots of doctors and get lots of records
supporting his claim to have cognitive trouble.” R.
• “Since [his injury] he has worked off and on,
but he [seems] to spend much of his time trying to get on
• “He says he is not able to hold down a job, but
it is unclear why.” Id.
• “I suspect that there is evidence in his records
that there is no residual cerebral dysfunction. Otherwise, he
probably would have brought those supporting records along
with him.” Id.
• “I did have the feeling that during the first
portion of the interview he was feigning more difficulty than
he actually has.” R. 461-62.
also true that the ALJ relied in part on McKee's
assessment of Beaudreau. In concluding that Beaudreau
didn't suffer from a severe mental impairment, the ALJ
cited McKee's opinion multiple times. R. 17.
is simply not accurate that the ALJ rested his decision
primarily on McKee. The ALJ also relied on the following
reasons to support his finding that Beaudreau ...