Kelly o/b/o C.R.C. v. Colvin, (N.D. Ga. Mar. 13, 2018) (Magistrate Judge Janet F. King)

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Included: Plaintiff’s Brief, Plaintiff’s Reply Brief, and Final Opinion and Order

Issues Briefed:

  1. 1)  The ALJ committed reversible error in failing to properly evaluate C.R.C’s functional limitations as the evidence documents that the child has a marked limitation in the domain of interacting and relating with others.

  2. 2)  The ALJ’s credibility finding is not supported by substantial evidence.

  3. 3)  The ALJ’s finding that Listing 112.10 pertaining to Autism Spectrum Disorder is not

    met in this case is not supported by substantial evidence.

In Kelly, while the ALJ found that the child claimant had a marked limitation in the domain of “caring for himself,” the child did not have a marked limitation in any other domain and was not disabled. Slip op. at 14. The court agreed that the ALJ erred when he found that the claimant has less than a marked limitation in “interacting and relating with others” and rejected the opinion of the claimant’s treating physician who found that the claimant had a marked limitation in this domain Id. at 26.

As the court explained, in so finding, the ALJ relied on an isolated treatment note from December 2014 indicating that the child claimant was “‘doing great . . . [and] doing well in school includingbeingabletoconcentrateandfocusandgethisworkdone.’”Id.at15. However,thecourt observed that “when the record evidence is considered as a whole, it reveals that the claimant’s impairments were episodic in nature and that he experienced good and bad days with regard to his symptoms” and that “any improvement that the claimant experienced on certain occasions was not sustained.” Id. at 16. As the court explained:

Treatment notes from Dr. Kantamneni dated November 3, 2014, a month before the records cited by the ALJ, show that the claimant had mood swings with good days and bad days. The November 2014 records indicate that the claimant had been hospitalized twice and had been in a partial hospitalization program twice. The same treatment notes also reveal that the claimant continued to have anger problems, “temper tantrums, stomping at stuff, throwing stuff and also getting physically aggressive.” Although the claimant denied having auditory hallucinations at the time of the November 2014 examination, his mother reported that a couple of weeks prior, he had talked “about how the voices were telling him to do bad things.” The treatment notes also state that the father had “talked about how recently [the claimant] got into trouble for making gestures as if he was holding a gun at school . . . and he repeated this behavior two times in a row, and then was sent to the principal.” Also, the claimant had recently “used a BB gun which belongs to his father and shattered a glass in the basement of the home.” During the November 2014 mental status exam, Dr. Kantamneni found that the claimant was “somewhat restless and fidgety,” that his “affect was constricted in range and superficial,” and that his insight and judgment were poor. The physician diagnosed the claimant with bipolar disorder with psychosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, Asperger disorder, and a GAF score of 40. Dr. Kantamneni recommended that the claimant meet regularly with his therapist and restarted him on “risperidone to help him with his mood stabilization and also the psychosis.” As previously noted, these treatment notes from Dr. Kantamneni document the claimant’s condition a month before the December 2014 records relied upon by the ALJ which indicated that the claimant had experienced improvement in his symptoms.

Id. at 16-17.

The court held that the “ALJ did not have good cause to reject Dr. Kantamneni’s opinion” as “[m]edical and school records are consistent with the treating physician’s opinion.” Id. at 26. Thus, the court concluded that after evaluating the record as a whole, substantial evidence did not support the ALJ’s finding that the claimant has less than a marked limitation in interacting and relating to others, warranting remand. Id.