Mills v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 659 F. App’x 541 (11th Cir. Aug 16, 2016) (Decision by Circuit Judges Wilson, Rosenbaum, and Black)

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Included: Appellant’s Initial Brief, Appellant’s Reply Brief and Decision Issues Briefed:

  1. 1)  As the record as a whole, including evidence submitted to the Appeals Council, documents that Mr. Mills presented a “colorable claim of a mental impairment,” the Commissioner committed reversible error in failing to comply with the required technique for analyzing mental impairments found at 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520a.

  2. 2)  The Appeals Council committed reversible error in failing to remand this matter to the ALJ for consideration of the newly submitted evidence of a six-week involuntary

In Mills, the Eleventh Circuit found that the ALJ committed reversible error by “failing to analyze his mental impairment using the special technique required by the Social Security regulations and Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1213-14 (11th Cir. 2005), because the evidence in the record established that he presented a colorable claim of mental impairment.” Id. at 542. The court first inferred from the ALJ’s discussion of the claimant’s evidence of mental impairment, which included complaints of depression and a bipolar diagnosis, that the ALJ determined the claim was at least colorable. Thus, the ALJ was required to employ the special technique. Id. at 542-43. Because the ALJ did not do so by completing a PRTF and appending it to the decision, the court concluded that it next needed to “determine if the ALJ’s analysis of Mills’ mental impairment incorporated the PRTF technique into the decision.” Id. at 543. This was not done, held the court, even though the ALJ discussed some of the functional areas. The court explained: “Although the ALJ’s opinion incorporated analysis of three of the four functional limitations, the decision does not reference social functioning” as required by the regulations. Id. at 544 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520a(e)(4)). Therefore, the court reversed due to the decision’s failure to include any specific finding as to the claimant’s degree of limitation in social functioning. Id.