United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.
Yearling (“Yearling” or “plaintiff”)
filed this action appealing the denial of his application for
disability benefits against Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner” or “defendant”).
He claims he was improperly denied Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) because the presiding
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) failed to
consider valid medical evidence and substituted his own lay
knowledge for information on the record. On April 3, 2017,
plaintiff's attorney filed a motion for an order
reversing the decision of the Commissioner. Also pending
before the Court is defendant's motion to affirm. For the
reasons that follow, the motion to reverse will be denied and
the motion to affirm will be allowed.
Employment History and Alleged Disability
was born on October 25, 1986. He alleges that he suffers from
Osgood-Schlatter disease, severe bipolar disorder, panic
disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and attention deficit
disorder. He also notes a history of special education in
school, physical abuse, violent outbursts, incarceration and
treatment for ADHD and the other disorders from which he
suffers. Yearling lacks any substantial work experience.
was incarcerated from June, 2013 through November, 2014. He
contends that during his incarceration he met regularly with
a psychiatrist who prescribed for him medicine for symptoms
relating to his anti-social personality disorder, anxiety and
difficulty sleeping. Following his release, Yearling met his
primary care physician, Lakshmi Sivasankar, who prescribed
pain medication for symptoms relating to Osgood-Schlatter
disease. Dr. Sivasankar also referred him to a behavioral
health specialist for further treatment of his psychiatric
saw several doctors for his various infirmities leading up to
his application for SSI benefits. In August, 2015,
psychologist Daniel R. Morocco evaluated Yearling and
administered an IQ test. Yearling's full scale IQ
measured 60, and Dr. Morocco diagnosed Yearling with a mild
January, 2016, psychiatrist William J. Meehan evaluated
Yearling and concluded he would be unable to complete a
normal work day. The same month, Dr. Sivasankar evaluated
Yearling and determined that, due to Yearling's physical
symptoms, he would be incapable of even low stress jobs and
would require many unscheduled breaks.
asserts that because of his physical and mental health
problems he cannot be gainfully employed and that seeking
treatment has not helped.
December 1, 2014, plaintiff filed an application for SSI
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”) in which he alleges that he is
disabled because of the ailments described above. The Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) denied his claim
in April, 2015. In July, 2015, the SSA reconsidered and
denied plaintiff's claim again. Plaintiff subsequently
filed a request for a hearing which was held before ALJ John
Benson in January, 2016. Plaintiff was represented by
counsel. In February, 2016, the ALJ denied plaintiff's
claim, finding that plaintiff was not disabled as that term
is defined by 42 U.S.C. § 404.1505(a) of the Act.
filed a timely request for review with the Appeals Council.
That request was denied in April, 2016, rendering the
ALJ's determination a final decision subject to judicial
review. See Da Rosa v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 803 F.2d 24, 25 (1st Cir.
filed his complaint with this Court in June, 2016. The
Commissioner filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted in September, 2016.
That motion was denied in November, 2016. Plaintiff filed a
motion to reverse the Commissioner's decision in April,
2017. The Commissioner filed a motion to affirm in June,
2017. Both motions are the subject of this memorandum.