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Corbit v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 22, 2015



Janet Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.

Plaintiff Judson Corbit brought this action under Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), as amended, seeking review of the final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denying his Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income Benefits (“SSI”). On April 20, 2015, Magistrate Judge Margolis issued a Recommended Ruling [Doc. # 29] granting Defendant’s Motion [Doc. # 22] for an Order Affirming the Commissioner’s Decision, and denying Plaintiff’s Motion [Doc. # 16-1] for an Order Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner. (See Rec. Ruling at 29.) Plaintiff has filed a timely objection [Doc. ## 30, 33] to the Recommended Ruling, seeking reversal of the decision of the Commissioner denying his DIB and SSI benefits or, in the alternative, remand to the Commissioner for a rehearing. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s objection is overruled and the Recommended Ruling is approved and adopted.

I. Background

The factual and procedural background of this action is detailed on pages one through twelve of the Recommended Ruling, which this Court incorporates by reference. Briefly, on October 26, 2009, Plaintiff Judson Corbit applied for DIB and SSI benefits, claiming that he had been disabled since January 1, 2008, due to impulse control disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (“OCD”), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), depression, anxiety disorder, and attention deficit disorder (“ADD”). (See Certified Transcript of Administrative Proceedings, dated January 23, 2014 (“Tr.”) at 122-23, 132-33, 168, 286-94, 324; see also Id. at 58, 96, 320.) Mr. Corbit is a 33-year old man who lives with his parents and brother. (Id. at 53, 289, 346.) He graduated from a private special education high school and attended one year of technical school for auto mechanics. (Id. at 53, 328-29, 414, 464.) Mr. Corbit testified that he has held “[o]ver [twenty]” jobs (id. at 60), including food delivery person, mortgage broker, alarm technician, service writer, and auto mechanic (see Id. at 60-64, 296-99, 307-12, 325, 331-41, 355-61). At the time of his hearing, he was working as an assistant manager at Monro Muffler and Brakes; he started working there in July 2011, and he was earning between $1, 500 and $2, 000 a month. (Id. at 54-55.)

Plaintiff was seen by a number of doctors between 2000 and 2012 (when the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) rendered his decision), several of whom were treating physicians and many of whom examined Plaintiff or his medical records in connection with his application for benefits.

Dr. Aaron Tessler treated Mr. Corbit from November 2000 until June 1, 2010 (see id. at 421-32) for “recurrent depression and for symptoms consistent with [ADD]” (id. at 401). Plaintiff reported that he stopped seeing Dr. Tessler in June 2010 because he could no longer afford the co-payments. (Id. at 455.) Between September 9, 2010 and August 31, 2011, Plaintiff was treated at Harbor Health Services, Inc. for his OCD, Tourette’s ADHD, and Seasonal Affective Disorder, Generalized. (Id. at 433-57.) He was discharged in August 2011 due to “[r]epeated [n]o [s]hows.” (Id. at 436.)

On February 12, 2010, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Steven Kahn, in connection with his application for benefits. (Id. at 402-04.) Dr. Kahn determined that Plaintiff suffered from OCD, which “negative[ly] [a]ffect[s] how he interacts with other people[] [and] make[s] other people dislike their interactions with him[, ] and that seems to be what mostly got in the way of him holding a job for any length of time.” (Id. at 403.)

John J. Warren, Ed.D. completed a Mental Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) Assessment of Plaintiff nearly a month later, on March 3, 2010, and found Plaintiff to be “[u]nable to deal directly with the public[, ]” and moderately limited in his ability to accept instructions from his supervisors, to get along with coworkers or peers without distracting them or exhibiting behavioral extremes, and to maintain socially appropriate behavior. (Id. at 128-29, 138-39.)

On October 7, 2010, Dr. Jesus Lago authored a Psychiatric Summary of Plaintiff in which he diagnosed Plaintiff with anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified (“NOS”), and schizoid personality disorder, and noted that Plaintiff’s social interaction with people was “very poor.” (Id. at 407.)

Three days later, Pamela Fadakar, PsyD completed a Mental RFC Assessment on Plaintiff in which she opined that Plaintiff was not significantly limited in his ability to carry out very short and simple instructions, and he was moderately limited in his ability to carry out detailed instructions, to maintain attention and concentration for extended periods, to work in coordination with or in proximity to others without being distracted by them, and to complete a normal workday and workweek. (Id. at 150-51, 162-63.) Dr. Fadakar concluded that Plaintiff was not suited to work with the public or in a highly social setting but can relate adequately with supervisors on a brief, superficial basis, and was best suited to work in an isolated setting where social contact was limited and where he could request help and maintain an adequate appearance. (Id. at 152, 164.)

On August 8, 2011, after performing a Psychological/Disability Examination on Plaintiff, Lance Hart, PhD, observed that Plaintiff’s limitations “have mainly to do with the fact that there are restrictions on his ability to deal extensively with the public although it appears he can do this reasonably well in a structured situation like a job situation.” (Id. at 415.) Dr. Hart also completed a Medical Source Statement of Ability To Do Work-Related Activities (Mental), in which he concluded that Plaintiff had mild restrictions in his ability to make simple work-related decisions, understand, remember, and carry out complex instructions, make judgments on complex work-related decisions, interact appropriately with the public, and respond appropriately to usual work situations and changes in a routine work setting. (Id. at 416-17.)

On May 2, 2012, after Plaintiff had been out of treatment for nine months, Geraldine Cassens, PhD, performed a neuropsychological evaluation of Plaintiff. (Id. at 460-70.) Dr. Cassens found that Plaintiff had difficulty following instructions in the work place “or adequately processing social interactions[, ]” and that “[e]ven if he were to work in TOTAL isolation, it is likely that his ability to complete a job in a reasonable, cost effective way would be compromised by his own frustration and agitation.” (Id. at 470.)

After Plaintiff’s application for disability benefits was denied initially and upon reconsideration (id. at 168-74, 178-85; see also id. at 120-21, 142-43, 175), he requested a hearing before an ALJ (id. at 194; see also Id. at 186-92). That hearing was held on March 21, 2012 before ALJ Roy P. Liberman; Plaintiff and his father, Judson X. Corbit testified. (Id. at 49-87.) A continued hearing was held on June 12, 2012, at which Plaintiff again testified, along with Albert J. Sabella, a vocational expert (“VE”). (Id. at 88-119.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing and continues to be represented throughout the action. (See Id. at 176-77.) ALJ Liberman issued his decision on June 26, 2012, ...

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