Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

December 3, 2019

JAMES ROBERT JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Barbara B. Crabb District Judge.

         Plaintiff James Robert Jones is seeking review of a final decision denying his claim for supplemental security income under the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (I have amended the caption to reflect the fact that the new Commissioner of Social Security is Andrew M. Saul.) The administrative law judge found that plaintiff was impaired by depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but that he could still perform work in the national economy despite his impairments. Plaintiff contends that the administrative law judge erred by: (1) relying on the outdated opinions of the state agency psychologists; and (2) failing to adequately incorporate plaintiff's mental limitations related to concentration, persistence and pace into the residual functional capacity assessment and the hypothetical question presented to the vocational expert. Although the administrative law judge did not err in relying on the opinions of the state agency psychologists, the administrative law judge did fail to adequately address the limitations provided by those psychologists. Therefore, I will remand the case for further proceedings.

         The following facts are drawn from the administrative record (AR).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff James Robert Jones was born in 1972, making him 42 at the time he filed for supplemental security income in November 2014. Plaintiff stated that he had been disabled since May 2014 by numerous physical and mental impairments, including post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, chronic epididymitis and chronic diverticulitis. AR 229. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge. After the hearing, the administrative law judge issued a written decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled. AR 12-29.

         In his decision, the administrative law judge following the five-step sequential evaluation of disability set out by the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At step one, the administrative law judge found that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since applying for disability. AR 17. (The record shows that plaintiff has little to no significant work history.) At steps two and three, the administrative law judge found that plaintiff had a number of severe impairments, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but that none of those impairments met or equaled the severity criteria of a listed impairment. AR 17-18. At steps three and four, the administrative law judge found that plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, with the following nonexertional limitations:

simple, routine and repetitive tasks; is unable to work at a production-rate pace but can perform goal-oriented work; can make simple, work-related decisions and tolerate routine work-place changes; can occasionally interact with supervisors, coworkers and the public.

AR 20. At steps four and five, the administrative law judge determined that plaintiff had no past relevant work, but that based on vocational expert testimony, plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy. AR 28-29.

         In August 2017, the appeals council denied plaintiff's request for review, AR 1-4, making the administrative law judge's decision the final decision of the commissioner. Plaintiff then filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         OPINION

         Plaintiff makes two narrow arguments related to the administrative law judge's handling of his mental impairments. He argues that the administrative law judge erred by (1) giving great weight to the opinions of two state agency psychological consultants; and (2) failing to adequately incorporate plaintiff's mental limitations related to concentration, persistence and pace into the residual functional capacity assessment and the hypothetical question presented to the vocational expert.

         In reviewing the administrative law judge's decision with respect to these two arguments, I must determine whether the decision is supported by “substantial evidence, ” meaning “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Moon v. Colvin, 763 F.3d 718, 721 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). This deferential standard of review “does not mean that we scour the record for supportive evidence or rack our brains for reasons to uphold the ALJ's decision.” Id. The administrative law judge must identify the relevant evidence and build a “logical bridge” between that evidence and the ultimate determination. Id. See also Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005) (“[T]he ALJ must . . . explain his analysis of the evidence with enough detail and clarity to permit meaningful appellate review.”); Villano v. Astrue, 556 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir. 2009).

         A. State Psychological Consultants

         The administrative law judge gave great weight to the opinions of two state agency psychological consultants, Frank Orosz and Deborah Pape. Orosz gave the opinion that although plaintiff's post-traumatic stress disorder was severe and limiting, plaintiff would “still be able to sustain the mental demands of unskilled work.” AR 72. Orosz found that plaintiff was not significantly limited in his ability to carry out short and simple instructions, sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision, make simple work-related decisions and work in coordination with and in proximity to others. AR 76. However, Orosz found the plaintiff was moderately limited in his ability to understand and remember detailed instructions, maintain attention and concentration for extended periods, perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, be punctual within customary tolerances, perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.