The issues on appeal to the district court were whether the Administrative Law Judge failed to consider the functional limitations found by a nurse practitioner and whether the claimant met or equaled Listing 12.05C
The magistrate judge concluded that the ALJ was under the mistaken belief that because the nurse practitioner was not “an acceptable medical” source, he did not need to evaluate her opinion. Citing the regulations and Social Security Ruling 06-03p, the court noted that although only an opinion from an acceptable medical source may be given controlling weight, evidence from such a source may be used to demonstrate the severity of an impairment or how it impacts that individual’s ability to function. Failure to evaluate the nurse practitioner’s opinion meant that the ALJ did not consider all the evidence in the record.
On the issue of meeting the requirements of Listing 12.05C, the court stated that the ALJ: “chose to credit the 2008 IQ test scores over those of the other two tests which placed Stewart in the mildly retarded range. However, in reaching that decision the administrative law judge did not discuss Stewart's education records or previous IQ test results.”
The district court stated that: “The Listing also requires that deficits in adaptive functioning appear during the developmental period. The records from New Lexington City Schools make it very clear that this was the case.”
The court found that: “In addition, the Listing requires an additional and significant limitation of function and Stewart's back problem is the obvious deficit to be analyzed here. . . .Thus there really is no legitimate question at all that Stewart had degenerative disc disease of the thoracic spine, and that it is a significant work-related functional deficit.”
The judge reviewed the ALJ’s reliance on activities of daily living in his denial of the disability claim, but cautioned:
“One must be careful in accepting as true what persons with mental and/or intellectual deficits say they can do, because, incredibly, they sometimes lose track of the fact that the requested finding is one of disability, not enhancement of self-worth. So one must investigate a statement by a claimant that he can, for instance, mow the lawn, with qualifiers, such as (1) over what distance? (2) with what type of mower? (3) how long without breaks? and (4) with what degree of objective success?”
In recommending that the case be remanded, the magistrate judge stated that the ALJ’s “decision is not supported by substantial evidence.”
The language in this magistrate judge’s opinion about how the claimant described his activities of daily living is insightful.
Too many disability claimants hold back the truthful details of their limitations.
See the chapter, Talk Like a Disabled Person, in HOW TO GET SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY & SSI DISABILITY.
Stewart v. Commissioner of Social Security, Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-741 (D. S.D. Ohio, E. Div., Mar. 7, 2014)