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IWACHNIUK v. CHATER

May 15, 1996

KIMBERLY IWACHNIUK, Plaintiff,
v.
SHIRLEY CHATER, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

 Plaintiff, Kimberly Iwachniuk, applied for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits on February 6, 1992. *fn1" After a hearing on May 26, 1993, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Irving Stillerman ruled that Ms. Iwachniuk was not under a disability and consequently denied her request for benefits. On Ms. Iwachniuk's request, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ for further proceedings. A second hearing was held on September 7, 1994, at which a vocational expert testified. On February 4, 1995, ALJ Stillerman again ruled that the claimant was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Ms. Iwachniuk's request for review. On October 10, 1995, Ms. Iwachniuk brought the present action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Health and Human Services ("Commissioner"). Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Ms. Iwachniuk's motion is granted and the Commissioner's motion is denied.

 Facts

 At the hearings, Ms. Iwachniuk testified to the following facts. She was born on March 22, 1957, had never married, and had no children. Tr. 185-86. She had always lived with her mother. Tr. 186. Ms. Iwachniuk attended school only through the eighth grade. Tr. 214. She did not go to high school but took some special classes for slow learners until she was 15 or 16. Tr. 188, 216. Ms. Iwachniuk has never applied for or held a job. Tr. 214-15.

 Ms. Iwachniuk stated that her day is spent reading, riding a bike, and going shopping. Tr. 189. She takes the bus alone to a nearby mall when she goes shopping. Tr. 189. When making purchases, she does not know if she receives correct change. Tr. 190. Ms. Iwachniuk also helps out around the house, vacuuming and washing dishes. Tr. 193-94. She has no friends and has not had any since she attended school. Tr. 194-95. Ms. Iwachniuk does not claim any physical impairment. Tr. 198.

 Gloria Iwachniuk, Kimberly Iwachniuk's mother, also testified at both hearings. Ms. Gloria Iwachniuk stated that the plaintiff did not pay any bills in the house. Tr. 201. She could not explain why her daughter had no friends. Tr. 200. According to Ms. Gloria Iwachniuk, the claimant sometimes forgets to clean her room when she is asked. Tr. 201. Ms. Gloria Iwachniuk has not encouraged her daughter to seek employment in the last five years. Tr. 202-03. She had contacted Public Aid regarding special training for the claimant, but has not contacted any organization that provides special vocational training. Tr. 203.

 In a "Disability Report" dated February 6, 1992, Ms. Iwachniuk stated that she had no limitations as to household maintenance. Tr. 95. She also indicated that she visited friends, relatives, and neighbors weekly. Tr. 95. A Social Security employee observed Ms. Iwachniuk and her mother completing the Disability Report. She was "neatly dressed" and was able to answer all the employee's questions. Tr. 99. When the employee asked Ms. Iwachniuk why she had never tried attending school after eighth grade, she replied that "her mother didn't think she could handle it." Tr. 99. The employee also noted that Ms. Iwachniuk looked to her mother for approval while answering the questions. Tr. 99.

 Ms. Iwachniuk completed an "Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire" on March 5, 1992. In the questionnaire, Ms. Iwachniuk indicated that she cleans and vacuums once a week. Tr. 139. She enjoys being with other people and "sometimes" likes to be by herself. Tr. 141. Ms. Iwachniuk states that she is not afraid of people, does not tend to get angry and fight with people, and does not get upset when people give her orders or criticize her. Tr. 141. She states that her hobby is collecting penguins. Tr. 142.

 On December 20, 1991, Nestor Manjarret, a consulting psychiatrist, completed an evaluation form in which he estimated the claimant's sustained ability to carry out certain activities in an 8 hour workday, 5 days a week. Tr. 144-46. Dr. Manjarret opined that Ms. Iwachniuk would have "extreme" limitations in her ability to understand, remember, and carry out technical or complex job instructions. Tr. 144. He also wrote that she would experience "marked" difficulties in understanding, remembering, and carrying out "detailed but uncomplicated job instructions." Finally, Dr. Manjarret indicated that Ms. Iwachniuk would have "extreme" limitations in her ability to understand, remember, and carry out a "simple one or two-step job instruction." Tr. 144. Regarding interpersonal relations, Dr. Manjarret stated that Ms. Iwachniuk would have "extreme" difficulty interacting with supervisors, but only "moderate" limitations in her ability to interact with co-workers. Tr. 144. Dr. Manjarret also indicated that Ms. Iwachniuk would have "extreme" difficulties in dealing with the public and sustaining her concentration and attention. Tr. 144. Dr. Manjarret diagnosed Ms. Iwachniuk with mild mental retardation. Tr. 146. He thought that Ms. Iwachniuk would become "shaky" and "anxious," and her mental status would "possible [sic] decompensate" under the stress of a competitive full-time job. Tr. 145.

 On March 21, 1992, Alan Ward performed a psychological evaluation of Ms. Iwachniuk on a referral from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services. Tr. 147-48. He reported that during the examination Ms. Iwachniuk appeared "shy, dependent[,] and childlike," but was also "friendly and cooperative throughout the examination." Tr. 147-48. Dr. Ward evaluated Ms. Iwachniuk's intelligence quotient ("IQ") using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised ("WAIS-R") test. Ms. Iwachniuk scored a verbal IQ of 72 and a performance IQ of 85. Tr. 148. Her full-scale IQ was 78. Tr. 148. Ms. Iwachniuk scored low in subtests requiring arithmetic concepts and short-term memory. Tr. 148. She performed best on the "subtests requiring familiarity with the everyday world and analytic and synthetic skills." Tr. 148.

 Ms. Iwachniuk was evaluated by another psychologist, Nicolette Puntini, on September 23, 1992. Tr. 149-52. Dr. Puntini observed that Ms. Iwachniuk "appeared slow intellectually" and "displayed a limited range of affect." Tr. 149. According to Dr. Puntini, Ms. Iwachniuk made coherent statements, but provided only limited information. Tr. 149. Dr. Puntini also noted that Ms. Iwachniuk exhibited no psychotic symptoms. Tr. 149. Ms. Iwachniuk told Dr. Puntini that she "never thought about working" because her mother "never suggested it." Tr. 150.

 On the WAIS-R test conducted by Dr. Puntini, Ms. Iwachniuk scored a verbal IQ of 71, a performance IQ of 83, and a full-scale IQ of 76. Tr. 151. Dr. Puntini concluded that "Ms. Iwachniuk would have difficulty meeting the minimum standards of a normal, competitive work setting on a sustained basis." Tr. 152. She opined that while Ms. Iwachniuk was intellectually slow, her IQ score did not signify mental retardation. Tr. 152. She further noted that Ms. Iwachniuk could understand, remember, and carry out "only very simple instructions." Tr. 152.

 Dr. Puntini also stated that Ms. Iwachniuk was passive, submissive, and dependent on others for most activities of daily living. Tr. 152. She noted that Ms. Iwachniuk told her that she spent most of her time alone or with her mother and that she was very close to her mother. Tr. 150. Dr. Puntini observed that Ms. Iwachniuk "appeared to be very dependent on her [mother]." Tr. 150. According to Dr. Puntini, Ms. Iwachniuk's intellectual limitations and dependent personality "would militate against her being able to respond appropriately to the public, coworkers and supervisors in a routine work setting." Tr. 152. Dr. Puntini found it "extremely unlikely" that Ms. Iwachniuk could "sustain normal, competitive employment for any appreciable length of time." Tr. 152.

 Dr. Puntini also completed a form assessing Ms. Iwachniuk's limitations in various functional categories. Tr. 153-61. On this form, Dr. Puntini indicated that Ms. Iwachniuk meets listing 12.08 (Personality Disorders) because of her dependent personality. Tr. 153. Dr. Puntini stated that Ms. Iwachniuk's restrictions on activities of daily living, difficulties in maintaining social ...


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