Matrone, on behalf of M.S.M., her Child (N. D. Ga. May 19, 2018) (Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman)

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Included: Plaintiff’s Brief, Plaintiff’s Reply Brief, Report and Recommendation, and Order

Issues Briefed:

  1. 1)  The ALJ committed reversible error in failing to properly evaluate M.S.M.’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 Appeals Council committed reversible error in failing to remand the case based on the new report filed from the treating psychiatrist.

     

The court first addressed whether the ALJ erred in finding a less than marked limitation in the domain of interacting and relating to others. R&R at 27-36. The court agreed with the claimant that “the vast majority of the evidence shows that Plaintiff had precisely the types of limitations outlined by 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a,” pertaining to this domain. Id. at 34. As the court elaborated:

For example, the record shows that Plaintiff exhibited four out of the five limitations set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(i)(3) as examples of marked limitations in the interacting and relating with domain. The ALJ acknowledged that Plaintiff, his mother, and teachers provided evidence that he lacks friends his own age, [R28], a limitation described by § 416.926a(i)(3)(ii). The ALJ also noted evidence that Plaintiff avoided or withdrew from people he did not know and was overly anxious or fearful of meeting new people or trying new experiences, [R21 (citing [R210])], a limitation described by § 416.926a(i)(3)(ii). Additionally, the ALJ cited parts of the record showing that Plaintiff had difficulty playing games or sports with rules,, a limitation described by § 416.926a(i)(3)(iv). Lastly, there was evidence that he had difficulty communicating with others, helping himself and cooperating, as described in § 416.926a(i)(3)(v). . . .

Other treating and examining physicians, as well as Plaintiff’s mother and educators, noted that Plaintiff had serious limitations interacting and relating with others. The ALJ did not explain why he found the cited parts of the record sufficient – in light of the remainder of the record – to conclude that Plaintiff had a less than marked limitation in interacting and relating with others. As such, the Court, reviewing the evidence as a whole, cannot conclude that the ALJ’s finding in this domain is supported by substantial evidence . . . .

Id. at 34-36. Thus, the court remanded this case with instructions to “carefully re-evaluate and weigh the record as a whole and explain why he did not fully credit the evidence that reflected Plaintiff suffered from the marked limitations set forth in § 416.926a(i)(3).” Id. at 36.