United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
For Harry Hagan, Plaintiff: Stephen L. Raymond, Law Office of Stephen L. Raymond, Esq., Haverhill, MA.
For Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant: Abraham R. George, U.S. Attorney's Office - MA, J. Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, Boston, MA; Anton P. Giedt, United States Attorney's Office, John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse, Boston, MA; Rosemary Connolly, U.S. Attorney's Office, Boston, MA.
For Social Security Adminstration, Interested Party: Thomas D. Ramsey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Boston, MA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATTI B. SARIS, Chief United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Harry Hagan, who suffers from depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and fluid in the brain, seeks review of the decision denying his application for Social Security Disability benefits (" SSD" ), and Supplemental Security Income (" SSI" ). The Plaintiff has moved to reverse and remand the Commissioner's denial of benefits, arguing that the Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ) improperly weighed medical
opinion evidence when evaluating Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (" RFC" ) and erred when assessing Plaintiff's credibility. The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration has moved for the court to affirm the denial of Hagan's application.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to affirm (Docket No. 21), and ALLOWS Plaintiff's motion to reverse or remand (Docket No. 12). The case is REMANDED.
Hagan was forty-seven years old when the ALJ denied his application on September 23, 2011. R. 21-33, 132. He graduated from high school in 1982. R. 164. His past work experience is in carpentry. R. 160-61. Hagan alleges disability beginning April 14, 2009. R. 41.
A. Physical Health Conditions
1. Seizures and Brain Conditions
On June 9, 1997, Hagan visited neurologist Dr. Alan Bell after suffering a seizure while at work. R. 287. Dr. Bell obtained an EEG and an MRI scan of Hagan's brain. R. 286. The EEG revealed an abnormality consistent with an epilepsy. Id. The MRI revealed chronic hydrocephalus (an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain). Id. On July 24, 1997, Dr. Bell noted that Hagan was taking Tegretol, which appeared to control his seizures and symptoms. Id.
B. Mental Health Conditions
1. Hagan's History of Anxiety and Depression
On September 5, 2002, Hagan returned to Dr. Bell, complaining of inattentiveness. R. 282. Dr. Bell noted that the recurrent partial seizures might be causing the inattentiveness. Id. On June 16, 2005, Hagan returned to Dr. Bell with complaints of difficulty sleeping. R. 279. Dr. Bell prescribed Diazepam. Id. On December 5, 2007, Dr. Bell noted that Hagan was experiencing " short-term memory loss" and " possible panic attacks." R. 278. Dr. Bell continued the prescription of Diazepam. R. 276. On July 22, 2009, Hagan saw Dr. Bell with complaints of insomnia and anxiety, as well as fullness in his ears. R. 273. Dr. Bell's impression was that Hagan suffered from chronic insomnia, for which he prescribed Valium. Id.
On January 19, 2010, Hagan visited psychiatrist Dr. Xiangyang Li complaining of anxiety and depression. R. 360-61. Hagan also described difficulty falling asleep, low energy, and difficulty focusing. Id. Dr. Li diagnosed Hagan with major depressive disorder and anxiety with a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 54. R. 361. Dr. Li prescribed Lexapro for Hagan's depression and anxiety. R. 360.
On February 8, 2010, Hagan returned to Dr. Li with continued complaints of depression. R. 358. Dr. Li affirmed his diagnosis of major depressive disorder with a GAF of 54, and increased the dosage of Lexapro. Id. On March 8, 2010,
Hagan returned to Dr. Li and his diagnosis remained unchanged. R. 357. Dr. Li switched the prescription from Lexapro to Effexor. Id. On April 5, 2010, Hagan returned and reported no improvements to Dr. ...