United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)
for judicial review of the final decision of Defendant
Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security, denying the application of Plaintiff Kimberly
Wilson (“Plaintiff”) for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq.,
and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq. (the “Act”).
The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc.
8). Because I cannot conclude that the decision denying
benefits was supported by substantial evidence, I will
reverse the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff's
application and remand for further proceedings.
March 17, 2011, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging
that she had been unable to work since January 1, 2008, due
to a learning disability. (Tr. 229-239, 310). The onset date
was later amended to October 1, 2012. (Tr. 74).
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially, and she
filed a request for a hearing. (Tr. 111-20). Plaintiff
participated in a hearing, received an unfavorable decision,
and appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, after which
the case was remanded back to the ALJ on September 10, 2013.
(Tr. 33-51, 91-104 163-68, 105-08). After a second hearing, a
second unfavorable decision was issued on December 22, 2014.
(Tr. 10-32). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the
hearing decision, and on April 1, 2015, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-5).
Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies, and the
decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
Plaintiff's Statements and Testimony
Function Report completed on March 27, 2011, Plaintiff stated
that she has never been able to read or write and cannot
count money; that she has a hard time understanding
directions; that she is always afraid of looking dumb and
being laughed at; and that she has problems with memory,
concentration, completing tasks, following directions, and
getting along with others. (Tr. 321, 323-25). She also
indicated that she has severe mood swings. (Tr. 326).
testified at a hearing before the ALJ on August 25, 2014. She
has completed the tenth grade and was in special education
classes in school. (Tr. 57). She cannot read well enough to
read newspapers or magazines and cannot read or write a
grocery list. (Tr. 58). She had to take her driver's test
fifteen times before she passed it. (Tr. 68). She suffers
from depression and from knee problems. (Tr. 70-71).
Plaintiff testified that people at work say she always has an
attitude and does not know how to talk to people. (Tr. 66).
She has difficulties getting along with co-workers, because
they use words she does not understand and they laugh at her.
(Tr. 66). Plaintiff's most recent job was working for a
parking company; she got fired after a month because she
“supposedly cussed out some customers.” (Tr. 65).
She has also worked in the past as a part-time cook, as a lab
technician (taking care of mice), and as a babysitter. (Tr.
Plaintiff's Medical Records
treatment records during the relevant period show that she
has reported depression; wanting to hurt herself; poor
appetite; thoughts of suicide; difficulty sleeping; homicidal
thoughts; hearing voices, irritability; anger; knee pain; and
lower back pain. (Tr. 462, 468, 541, 611, 615, 626, 650,
655). Her diagnoses include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic
stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression,
alcohol-induced mood disorder, cannabis-induced anxiety
disorder, and osteoarthritis of the right knee. (Tr. 463-64,
530, 610, 630).
April 29, 2011, Plaintiff was seen for a psychological
evaluation by Michael T. Armour, Ph.D. (Tr. 405-14). She was
41 years old at the time of the examination. (Tr. 405). Dr.
Armour noted that Plaintiff reported running away from home
for weeks at a time between the ages of nine and twelve;
being in fights as a child and using weapons, including
knives; stealing money and food; bullying others; and being
bullied. (Tr. 406). She reported that she had attended school
in the eleventh grade but had not finished that year. (Tr.
406). She indicated that she had been in special education
classes beginning in kindergarten because they had told her
that she was a troubled kid and was dumb. (Tr. 406). Her mood
during the examination varied from euthymic to upset and
tearful. (Tr. 409). She reported having an
“attitude” and having problems with irritability,
sadness, and feeling empty. (Tr. 409). She reported sleep
problems, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and a past suicide
attempt. (Tr. 409).
Armour conducted testing and found Plaintiff to have a Verbal
Comprehension Score of 63; a Perceptual Reasoning score of
82; a Working Memory score of 77; a Processing Speed Index
score of 74; and a Full Scale IQ score of 70. (Tr. 408). Dr.
Armour noted that her Full Scale IQ fell in the low end of
the borderline range. (Tr. 408). Dr. Armour's diagnoses
included a reading disability, posttraumatic stress disorder,
and borderline intellectual functioning, and he assigned
Plaintiff a Global Assessment of Functioning score of
50-55. (Tr. 410-11). He found that Plaintiff had
mild to moderate impairment in activities of daily living;
mild to moderate impairment in social functioning; mild to
occasionally moderate impairment in concentration,
persistence, or pace; and no episodes of decompensation. (Tr.
411). He opined that Plaintiff had moderate impairment in the
ability to understand and remember instructions; mild to
occasionally moderate impairment in the ability to sustain
concentration and persistence in tasks; and moderate
impairment in the ability to interact socially and adapt to
her environment. (Tr. 411-12).
10, 2014, F. Timothy Leonberger, Ph.D., conducted a
neuropsychological evaluation of Plaintiff. (Tr. 450-55). He
noted that Plaintiff had been in special education classes
beginning in kindergarten and had left high school sometime
in eleventh grade. (Tr. 451). She was suspended for fighting
two or more times. (Tr. 451). After performing testing, Dr.
Leonberger found that Plaintiff had Broad Reading, Broad
Mathematics, and Broad Written Language scores that were
“all in the extremely low range of functioning”
and were “significantly lower than would be expected,
considering her Full Scale IQ score.” (Tr. 453). He
diagnosed alcohol abuse, cannabis abuse, nicotine dependence,
reading disorder, disorder of written expression, and
borderline intellectual functioning, and he assigned a GAF
score of 50. (Tr. 454). He found that Plaintiff had no
impairment to mild impairment in activities of daily living;
moderate to marked impairment in social functioning; moderate
to marked impairment in concentration, persistence, and pace;
and moderate impairment in deterioration or decompensation in
work or work-like settings. (Tr. 454).
Standard for Determining ...