United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.
Pending before this Court is an appeal from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying the claims of Jonathan Dzurisin ("Plaintiff' or "Claimant") for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("SSA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et. seq. (2012). Plaintiff argues that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") should be reversed or remanded because the ALJ failed to properly represent Plaintiffs marked-level mental impairment regarding dealing with people in Plaintiffs Mental Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC"). In turn, the description provided to the Vocation Expert ("VE") at the hearing was flawed and, therefore, the opinion provided by the VE is not reliable. For these reasons Plaintiff asserts that the ALI's decision to deny benefits was not supported by substantial evidence as required by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) [See generally ECF No. 12].
To the contrary, Defendant argues that the ALJ reviewed all of the evidence to make a proper RFC determination and that despite the functional limitations identified by the ALJ, the Vocational Expert was able to present representative occupations which showed Claimant could perform in a gainful occupation and, therefore, the ALJ's decision should be affirmed. The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant the Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment. In tum, the Court will deny the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
II. Procedural History
On October 17, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI alleging disability beginning January 1, 2008 (R. at 54). The claim was initially denied on November 29, 2011 (R. at 54). On December 1, 2011, Claimant filed a written request for a hearing (R. at 54). A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge on January 3, 2013 (R. at 54). Francis N. Kinley, an impartial Vocational Expert, also appeared during the hearing (R. at 54). The Claimant was represented by Barbara S. Manna, a non-attorney representative (R. at 54).
On January 11, 2013, the ALJ, Brian Wood, determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under Sections 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act (R. at 54). The ALJ stated that, "Based on the testimony of the vocational expert, the undersigned concludes that, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual function capacity, the claimant is capable of making a successful adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. A finding of not disabled' is therefore appropriate under the framework of the above-cited rule." (R. at 62).
Plaintiff submitted a timely written request for review by the Appeals Council (R. at 25). On July 25, 2014 the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review thus making the Commissioner's decision final under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (R. at 1-6).
III Medical History
Plaintiff was born on February 19, 1986. At the time of the hearing Plaintiff was 26 years old and approximately 5'9" tall weighing 160 pounds (R. at 58). Plaintiff has attempted to take the OED exam twice and failed both times because he says he cannot concentrate (R. at 88). He reported he has worked at three welding jobs but he struggled to complete tasks properly and missed work on a chronic basis (R. at 74-77). The ALJ found the Claimant to have the following severe impairments: (1) Bipolar disorder; (2) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"); (3) body dismorphic disorder; and (4) irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS") (R. at 56).
Plaintiff reported he receives treatment from Psychiatrist Jasper Payne, Therapist/Psychologist Dr. Bruce Rohrs, and a Primary Care Physician, and a gastroenterologist (R. at 87). Plaintiff reported the following medications: Lamictal for Bipolar, Abilify, Vyvance for ADHD, and Valium for anxiety (R. at 87). Plaintiff stated he is constantly changing medications because he is not doing well on them (R. at 87).
Plaintiff had a doctor appointment at the Primary Care Physicians on August 3, 2007 shortly after moving to the Pittsburgh area. He was seen by Barry Austin, D.O. Dr. Austin reported that Plaintiff appeared underweight, pale, disheveled, and in distress (R. at 492). All vitals were normal and the doctor discussed with Plaintiff weaning down his dose of Ritalin for ADHD (R. at 492-93).
On April 11, 2008 Plaintiff returned to Primary Care Physicians for another office visit, He reported eating better but he was still very stressed (R. at 500). In general, Plaintiff complained of fatigue, malaise, weakness, and nausea (R. at 501). Plaintiff stated he felt anxious and had trouble concentrating on subject matter (R. at 502).
Plaintiff attended an April 23, 2008 office visit at Primary Care Physicians for a check-up where a review of all testing showed normal results (R. at 512). An EKG showed no abnormal results (R. at 514-15). Plaintiff was monitored for palpitations for 21 hours on a Holter Monitor with normal results. Despite Plaintiffs stating he had a symptomatic episode it did not correlate with any major abnormality in the data from the testing (R. at 516).
May 21, 2008 Plaintiff attended an office visit at Primary Care Physicians. Plaintiff had usual list of complaints and added epigastric discomfort (R. at 519). Doctor added Nexium to Plaintiffs list of medications (R. at 519).
On January 3, 2009 Plaintiff presented to the Heritage Valley Health System Emergency Department because of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea all day. He was rehydrated and discharged with instructions for BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet (R. at 394). He was prescribed Prilosec (R.at 405).
July 17, 2009 Plaintiff presented to the Heritage Valley Health System Emergency Department because of strong smelling urine and low back pain (R. at 407). Urinalysis was normal and Plaintiff was discharged (R. at 408).
On March 2, 2010 Plaintiff had a gall bladder ultrasound because of elevated bilirubin. It was an unremarkable ultrasound except for minimal intrahepatic biliary dialatation in the left lobe. ...