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Bryan Kelly Wallace v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 27, 2013

BRYAN KELLY WALLACE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

INTRODUCTION

On May 21, 2012, plaintiff Bryan Kelly Wallace filed a complaint against defendant, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), seeking a review of a denial of supplemental security income ("SSI"). Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

Plaintiff presents a single disputed issue for decision: whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly rejected the opinions of Drs. Jackson and Betty L. Borden, plaintiff's treating and examining psychologists, respectively. Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Mem.") at*fn1 3-8; Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Answer at 2-6.

Having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties's moving papers, the Administrative Record ("AR"), and the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the ALJ improperly rejected the opinions of plaintiff's treating and examining physicians without providing specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence for doing so. Therefore, the court remands this matter to the Commissioner in accordance with the principles and instructions enunciated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

II.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who was forty-five years old on the date of his June 22, 2010 administrative hearing, has a tenth grade education. See AR at 28, 35, 48, 50-51. His past relevant work includes employment for a mowing service. Id. at 35, 61.

On January 30, 2009, plaintiff applied for SSI, alleging that he had been disabled since June 15, 2002 due to schizoaffective disorder, substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, bi-polar disorder, and major depression. Id. at 28, 82-84, 90, 161. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which he filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 28, 82-84, 90, 95-97.

On June 22, 2010, plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 48-60, 80-81. The ALJ also heard testimony from Randi Langford-Hetrick, a vocational expert. Id. at 61-80. In addition, plaintiff amended the alleged onset date ("AOD") to January 30, 2009. Id. at 28, 49. On July 16, 2010, the ALJ denied plaintiff's request for benefits. Id. at 28-37. Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity since his AOD, January 30, 2009. Id. at 30.

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from severe medically determinable impairments consisting of: schizoaffective disorder, antisocial personality disorder, hypertension, and diabetes. Id.

At step three, the ALJ determined that plaintiff's impairments, whether individually or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id.

The ALJ then assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC"), and*fn2 determined:

[plaintiff] has the [RFC] to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels consisting of simple 1-2 step tasks with limitation to low stress tasks which permit occasional decision-making, occasional changes in the work setting and occasional exercise in judgment, occasional interaction with the public and co-workers, is limited to superficial, non-confrontational and non-arbitration/negotiation types of interaction, and no exposure to unprotected heights or dangerous machinery, or drive as an occupational requirement.

Id. (bold omitted).

The ALJ found, at step four, that plaintiff was unable to perform any past ...


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