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Mosley v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 29, 2018

DARRYL H. MOSLEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Darryl Mosley alleges the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in denying his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) by improperly weighing medical opinion evidence. Pl. Br. (doc. 9) at 4. Because I find the ALJ supported her decision to give “little weight” to the consulting physician's opinion with substantial evidence, I recommend denying Mosley's request for review.


         Mosley filed for benefits on May 21, 2014, alleging he had been disabled since January 24, 2014. R. at 69, 211. After a July 2016 hearing, the ALJ denied Mosley's claim in an opinion dated October 26, 2016. Id. at 13-32, 36-66. Applying the five-step sequential analysis, [1] the ALJ determined Mosley suffered from two severe impairments, bipolar disorder and degenerative changes of the lumbar spine, as well as non-severe hypertension, erectile dysfunction (“ED”), testicular hypogonadism, nocturia, and a surgically repaired left rotator cuff tear. Id. The ALJ found that none of Mosley's impairments, individually or in combination, met the criteria for the relevant Listing.[2] Id. at 16.

         The ALJ determined Mosley had the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work that requires no overhead reaching and involves simple, repetitive tasks with only occasional changes in the work setting and contact with the public and coworkers.[3] Id. at 18. The ALJ further concluded that, with this RFC, Mosley could perform his past work as a vehicle transporter or, alternatively, perform other jobs available in the national economy, such as sorter or packer. Id. at 24, 26.


         Mosley, 53 at the time of the ALJ's opinion, graduated high school and completed three years of college. Id. at 37, 40. At the time of the ALJ hearing, Mosley was living with his sister and his sister's foster daughter, although he intermittently stayed with his mother during the relevant time period. Id. at 39, 57, 468.

         In August 2007, Mosley hurt his neck and back in a motor vehicle accident. Id. at 302. He attended physical therapy three times per week, and by November 2007 only his neck was strained. Id. at 302-07. Mosley stopped treatment in early February 2008. Id. at 349. In March 2009, Mosley was involved in another motor vehicle accident, and resumed physical therapy for his back and neck. Id. at 354. This time, his condition was reduced to neck strain in less than two months. Id. at 373. He was discharged from physical therapy after three months. Id. at 385. He had continued to work full-time and received no other back treatment.[4] Id. at 354, 373.

         Mosley began mental health treatment at Consortium on September 30, 2011, and reported a long history of depression, hallucinations, nightmares, isolation, and panic attacks. Id. at 474. He noted he was supposed to be taking psychiatric medication but was not, and was assigned a Global Assessment Functioning (“GAF”) score of 50.[5] Id. at 476, 480.

         Mosley continued irregular treatment for his psychiatric condition throughout 2012, and his psychiatrist determined his symptoms could be controlled by a 5-mg dose of Abilify.[6] Id. at 401. In June 2013, Mosley saw his primary care physician for a regular preventive visit, and complained only of ED. Id. at 387-89. He denied any other mental or physical symptoms, and physical examination showed no gait disturbance, or any evidence of musculoskeletal or psychiatric symptoms. Id.

         That same month, Mosley returned to Consortium, and his psychiatrist noted he had not been seen in six months and had stopped taking the Abilify because he suspected it was causing his ED. Id. at 401. Mosley's psychiatrist explained the ED was more likely caused by his hypertension medications. Id.

         Two months later, Mosley returned to Consortium, although he had not yet filled the Abilify prescription he had received at his June visit. Id. at 400. Nonetheless, he was described as having “restabilized, ” and his providers noted he was working 30 hours per week. Id. at 401. Three months later, in November 2013, Mosley was assigned a GAF score of 50, [7] and described as “overall stable.” Id. at 401, 408.

         Mosley stopped working on January 24, 2014, his alleged onset date. Id. at 69, 227. In March 2014, Mosley had an abnormal electrocardiogram (“ECG”).[8] Id. at 391. He was referred to a cardiologist and one of his hypertension medications was stopped, although he denied all symptoms, including any pain. Id. The cardiologist found no explanation for the abnormal ECG, and during his cardiology visit Mosley specifically denied any neck pain or stiffness, muscle aches, or localized joint pain. Id. at 396. The cardiologist's examination showed normal neck, back, gait, stance, and reflexes, and Mosley's medications were continued. Id. at 397.

         In April 2014, Mosley started with a new therapist at Consortium. Id. at 406. He explained that he was pursuing SSI and employment in the security field. Id. Mosley informed the therapist he was taking a physical test later in the week to become a security guard with Temple University, and that he had applied for similar positions throughout the city with hospitals and other city and state agencies. Id. He told the therapist he had stopped working for his previous employer because he did not see a future with that company. Id. Mosley was not taking psychiatric medication because he could not afford it, but he denied psychiatric symptoms. Id. Mosley's therapist opined that Mosley had a good grasp of his situation and that his desire to become financially secure and maintain his mental stability was real. Id.

         In late May 2014, Mosley applied for benefits in person at the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) office, claiming he could not work due to his bipolar disorder, back problems, and high blood pressure. Id. at 211. Staff noted no visible physical or perceptual impairments, and commented Mosley was “talkative” and did not listen well. Id. at 234.

         In June 2014, Mosley returned to Consortium and reported he had not been taking his medications due to a lapse in medical insurance, which he had just re-established. Id. at 401. Mosley's psychiatrist noted he reported a variety of illusions and nightmares he misinterpreted as voices and quasi-delusions, and was worried about where to live, since he could no longer stay with his mother. Id. at 402. He was assigned a GAF score of 60. Id. at 403.

         Two days later, Mosley reported to SSA that he could not concentrate or focus on anything, his memory was terrible, he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, and he was weak, fatigued, tired, and depressed. Id. at 237. He stated that his back hurt when he stood or sat for too long. Id. He described a daily routine of eating, watching television, and reading the bible, and noted that his mother and sister cooked for him, and reminded him to bathe and take his medications. Id. at 238-39. He was able to do laundry and iron when they nagged him. Id. at 239. He stated he would go outside once or twice per week, could use public transportation alone, and would shop for necessities twice per week for 10-20 minutes. Id. at 240. He reported he would not lift anything because of his back, and had become isolated due to his impairments. Id. at 241-42. He did not get along with authority figures and had been fired from U.S. Security Associates because he did not get along with his supervisor. Id. at 243. The only medications he reported taking were for high blood pressure. Id. at 244.

         In a supplemental questionnaire about his pain, Mosley reported that his lower back pain had not changed since his accident in 2007; it was occasional, located in his lower back and hands, and caused by bending, standing, walking, and temperature extremes. Id. at 245. He noted the pain would sometimes last a few days and sometimes a week, and he would take Tylenol and aspirin, ...

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