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Hainline v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

October 31, 2017

SHILOH HAINLINE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DALE A. KIMBALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Shiloh Hainline (Hainline) filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on July 9, 2010, alleging a disability beginning around May 5, 1991. Hainline's claim was denied on October 14, 2010, and was also denied upon reconsideration on March 1, 2011. A hearing was held on October 1, 2012 before Administrative Law Judge Gilbert Martinez. The ALJ issued a decision finding that Hainline is not disabled. Hainline appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which remanded the case back to the ALJ for further review. A remand hearing was held on July 9, 2014. The ALJ again issued a decision finding that Hainline is not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Hainline's request for review. Hainline now appeals the ALJ's final decision finding that she is not disabled.

         On October 16, 2017, the court held a hearing on Hainline's appeal. At the hearing, the appellant Hainline was represented by Natalie L. Bolli-Jones and the appellee was represented by James L. Burgess. The court took the motion under advisement. Based on the briefing filed by the parties and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order GRANTING in part and DENYING in part Hainline's appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Hainline has an extensive medical history showing that she has many physical and mental difficulties. At issue in this appeal is Hainline's alleged motor/perceptual and social impairments. Three medical professionals' opinions relating to Hainline's motor/perceptual impairments are at issue in this appeal. Only the facts and opinions relevant to this appeal will be discussed.

         In 2013, Hainline alleges[1] that Dr. Knudsen performed a comprehensive physical exam and determined that Hainline could perform, at best, light work with some limitations in her ability to manipulate fine objects. The ALJ gave “great weight” to Dr. Knudsen's medical opinion. (See Administrative Record (A.R.) 57)).

         A mental status exam was also performed by Adam Schwebach, Ph.D. at the Neuropsychology Center of Utah. Dr. Schwebach determined that although Hainline had overall average intellectual functioning, she struggles with executive functioning, particularly in the area of planning, attention regulation, and problem solving. Dr. Schwebach tested Hainline's motor/perceptual abilities and based on the results placed her in the bottom one percentile. (A.R. 782). Dr. Schwebach also noted that she has significant difficulty in developing and maintaining social relationships. Dr. Schwebach diagnosed her with anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit disorder. The ALJ gave “great weight” to Dr. Schwebach's neuropsychological evaluation. (A.R. 57).

         Dr. Nelson performed a consultative examination. Dr. Nelson's examination covered all of Hainline's alleged impairments. (A.R. 56). Dr. Nelson opined, in relevant part, that Hainline has good hand-eye coordination and full strength. (A.R. 592). Dr. Nelson found that the claimant could perform some forms of work. (A.R. 56). The ALJ gave “considerable weight” to Dr. Nelson's opinion. Id.

         Based on the medical opinions, the ALJ determined that Hainline has severe impairments which include Asperger's syndrome, seizures, asthma, obesity, and a hearing loss in her left ear. The ALJ found that despite these health problems, Hainline can perform light work that exists in the national economy. (A.R. 53).Specifically, the ALJ determined that Hainline can perform the job of a laundry folder and an addressor. The ALJ therefore determined that Hainline is not disabled.

         The ALJ determined that Hainline can perform light work with the following limitations: She can understand, remember, and carry out short and simple instructions, and make simple work-related decisions. She can interact with supervisors and co-workers, but should have only brief and superficial interactive contact with the public. She can perform simple, routine, goal-oriented work in a consistent stable environment, and no fast-paced work. The ALJ determined that with Hainline's residual functioning capacity she can perform work available in the national economy. (A.R. 53).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The standard of review for an appeal of a Social Security determination is whether the ALJ's factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards in determining disability. Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017, 1019 (10th Cir. 1996). The court may consider the specific rules of law that the ALJ must follow in weighing particular types of evidence, but will not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's. Reyes v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 242, 244 (10th Cir. 1988).

         DISCUSSION

         Hainline argues that the ALJ erred in evaluating the medical evidence from Dr. Knudsen and Dr. Schwebach. Hainline asserts that the ALJ gave great weight to the medical testing performed by these two doctors, however, the ALJ failed to explain why he did not accept all of the findings by these doctors. Specifically, Haineline asserts that the ALJ: 1. Failed to resolve a discrepancy in the record between Dr. Knudsen and Dr. Nelson relating to Hainline's fine motor skill limitations; 2. Failed to resolve a discrepancy in the record between Dr. Schwebach and Dr. Nelson relating to Hainline's fine motor skills limitations; and 3. ...


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