« Ind. Decisions - More on: 7th Circuit decides Indiana case re Syrian refugees | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 2 NFP memorandum decision(s)) [Clarified] »

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides SSA appeal with a reversal

In George Meuser v. Carolyn Colvin (SD Ind., Hussmann, MJ), a 16 page per curiam opinion, the panel writes:

George Meuser suffers from schizophrenia and applied for Disability Insurance Benefits principally be‐ cause of that impairment. But an administrative law judge concluded at Step 2 of the 5‐step disability analysis that Meuser’s schizophrenia was not a severe impairment and denied benefits on that basis. A magistrate judge presiding by consent, see 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), upheld that ALJ’s decision, but Meuser argues that it rests on a profound misunder‐ standing of the medical evidence and thus is not supported by substantial evidence. We agree. * * *

Meuser, after all, is not claiming that he is disabled by physical limitations, so the proper focus— ignored by the ALJ—is the effect of Meuser’s schizophrenia on his mental functioning, including his abilities to concen‐ trate, perform work tasks without constant supervision, maintain a consistent pace, and work around and with other persons. Whether or not he can pop a frozen dinner into the microwave or occasionally clean the litterbox is irrelevant. Moreover, the ALJ asserted that Meuser was only mildly lim‐ ited in social functioning in part because he was able to spend time with his parents and he got along well with coworkers when he did work. But the ALJ disregarded evi‐ dence that Meuser was “extremely reclusive,” that he seemed to spend time only with his parents, and that his on‐ ly interactions with coworkers were before his alleged onset date. 

III.  CONCLUSION. Because the ALJ misunderstood the medical evidence and improperly rejected the treating psychiatrist’s opinion, the ALJ’s conclusion that Meuser did not have a severe im‐ pairment is not supported by substantial evidence. We there‐ fore REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND the matter to the agency for further proceedings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 4, 2016 10:48 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions