United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
MICHAEL A. TEAGUE, Plaintiff,
CAROYLN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
JONATHAN E. HAWLEY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is the Plaintiff's, Michael Teague,
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 12) and the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Affirmance (Doc. 15).
For the reasons set forth below, the Court REVERSES the
decision of the Commissioner to deny Michael Teague's
benefits and REMANDS this matter for further proceedings
consistent with this Order and Opinion.
September 2012, Michael Teague filed his application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, alleging a
disability onset date of May 19, 1992. (AR 174-79, 189).
After an initial denial of his claim in November 2012 (AR
95-98), Teague requested reconsideration of his claim and was
denied again in April 2013 (AR 104-07). Mr. Teague then filed
a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) (AR
109-11). A video hearing was held before ALJ Susan Sarsfield
on February 3, 2014 (AR 62, 144) and continued on April 23,
2014 (AR 29), in Peoria, Illinois, where Teague was
represented by counsel. The Claimant and his counsel were in
Davenport, Iowa during the video conference. (AR 29). A
vocational expert (VE), George Paprocki, testified. Following
the hearing, Teague's claim was denied in the ALJ's
unfavorable Decision on May 19, 2014. (AR 8-22). Teague
appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, and the Appeals
Council denied his request for review on June 23, 2015. (AR
1-4). Teague filed the instant civil action seeking review of
the ALJ's Decision on August 24, 2015. (Doc. 1).
time he applied for SSI benefits in September 2012, Teague
was a 22 year old male living in East Moline, Illinois, in an
apartment with his grandmother and two sisters. (AR 175). He
has never worked. (AR 201). Teague claims he has been
disabled since May 19, 1992, the date of his birth. Teague
received childhood disability benefits, but the folder
related to his childhood disability could not be located;
neither the ALJ nor the Court has access to the folder. (AR
190). On Form SSA-3368, the Claimant reported that he cannot
read or write, and is bipolar. (AR 193). His highest
educational level is 11th grade. Although he reported on this
form that he never attended special education classes, the
record shows that he was in special education classes during
school. (AR 38, 194). He reported that he takes Adderall
prescribed by the Robert Young Center in Moline, Illionis (AR
195) where he received mental health treatment from
1997-2012. (AR 197). Throughout the record, Teague claims he
has been prescribed a number of medications for his mental
Teague's Form SSA-3369, his grandmother remarked that he
was sick from birth and has anger problems and ADHD. (AR
207). She also reported that he is unable to work due to his
lack of schooling and illness. (AR 207, 209). His grandmother
reported he has the following problems with his mental
condition: memory, completing tasks, concentration,
understanding, following instructions, and getting along with
others. (AR 214). She reported that Teague does nothing but
eat, sleep, and walk around the house. (AR 210). She also
wrote that he has nightmares and sees things. (AR 210, 215).
Teague also reported having problems sleeping because of
voices and nightmares, along with tiredness and fear of the
dark. (AR 220, 227, 232).
is capable of some personal care such as bathing and dressing
if he is in a good mood. (AR 210). He doesn't do yardwork
because he doesn't know how. (AR 212). He reports he
cannot complete house or yard work because he cannot focus.
(AR 229). He also cannot drive because he doesn't know
how. (AR 212). Although he can count change, his grandmother
reports that he cannot pay bills or otherwise handle money
because he has never done these things or been on his own.
(AR 212). He reported that he can, however, make a sandwich
every now and then. (AR 228). He watches TV and plays music.
(AR 213). He plays video games and watches TV, mostly
involving killing. (AR 230). Every other day when he feels
like killing someone, he will hook up his video game and kill
a zombie. (AR 230).
Teague reported that he goes off like a bomb when he is
stressed. (AR 232). He reported that he doesn't like
anyone besides his grandmother and his aunt. (AR 231). He is
“always in a bad mood [and] just doesn't want to be
bothered by people.” (AR 231). His grandmother also
reported that he has social limitations because he has been
so confined all his life.
has been treated at the Robert Young Center, although the
treatment appears to be sporadic. In 2012 he was diagnosed
with an antisocial personality disorder and a Global
Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 41. (AR 328). The
Commissioner requested a psychological consultative
examination in 2012. Dr. Thomas Dhanens, Ph.D., the examiner,
found problems with math and spelling. Although Dr. Dhanens
did not observe a conduct disorder, he observed attitude and
personality problems. (AR 342). Dr. Kirk Witherspoon, Ph.D.,
was referred for an evaluation. Dr. Witherspoon administered
a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth Edition
(WAIS-IV) intelligence test and found a full-scale IQ of 62,
verbal comprehension index score of 63, and perceptual
reasoning index score of 58. (AR 348). His working memory
index score was higher at 71 and processing speed index score
was 81. Id.
hearing before the ALJ on April 23, 2014, Teague testified
that he was “locked up” after starting his
freshman year in high school, and his classes in the jail
were not substantial. (AR 37). After prison he was expelled
and could not get accepted into any alternative schools. (AR
28). He stated that although he tried to read in prison, he
was told he could not read. (AR 38). He testified that he was
in special education classes for all of his classes during
school. (AR 38). He stated that he never had a job because
nobody would give him one, although he admits he never
applied. (AR 38-39). He testified that he sometimes worked
odd jobs such as raking, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow for
money. (AR 39). According to Teague, he has problems
completing tasks such as mowing lawns because he cannot
follow directions. (AR 39-40).
Claimant testified about his legal troubles. At the time of
the hearing, he had recently been to prison for violating
probation for armed robbery. (AR 40). He testified that he
had been in and out of jail since the age of 14 due to his
anger issues. He testified that he would “black
out.” (AR 40). He testified that during this time he
heard voices and eventually received medical treatment. (AR
42). At the Robert Young Center, his doctor prescribed three
different medicines and was told he had bipolar and
schizophrenia. (AR 52). Teague testified that if he becomes
angry around his grandma and will punch holes in the wall.
(AR 43). Afterwards, he tries to fix the holes or anything
else he broke when he was angry. (AR 52).
hearing, the Claimant also testified that he gets tired, and
while at the youth center, he was left in his room all day
except for when he would go to school there. (AR 47). He
testified that while there, in his room, he would just talk
to himself, because that's all he could do. (AR 47-48).
He does not have difficulty leaving the apartment by himself,
and sometimes goes to the park. (AR 48). He can clean his
room and go to the store with his grandmother. (AR 49). He
can also carry the bags inside afterward, and sometimes he
even goes to the grocery by himself. (AR 50). Otherwise, he
has no other hobbies and does not participate in any outside
activities. (AR 50).
listening to Teague's testimony, the ALJ posed his
hypothetical questions to the VE, Brian Paprocki. The ALJ
asked the following:
Q . . . I'd like you to consider a
hypothetical claimant of the same age, education, and having
the same past work experience as this claimant limited to
simple, routine, repetitive tasks learned by short
demonstration only. He requires brief superficial interaction
with co-workers and supervisors, no tandem tasks, and no
interaction with the public, and he requires jobs that
measure productivity on an orderly basis. He can have only
occasional change in work processes and procedure. Is there
any work activity that he could perform?
A I testified in this case before,
Q Yes you did.
A Could you tell me what my testimony was
and the jobs I gave?
Q Okay. At that time, the hypothetical was
simple, routine, repetitive, brief superficial interaction
with co-workers and supervisors, no tandem tasks, no
interaction with the public and you testified that the
hypothetical claimant could perform the light job of
assembler such as toy assembler or plumbing hardware
assembler, house cleaner, and injection mold operator. With
the additional limitations that I've posed including
short demonstration only, production measured on a daily and
not hourly basis and no more than occasional change in work
processes and procedures, could he still perform those jobs?
(54-55). The VE responded that under the hypothetical, that
individual could work as a house cleaner, assembly job,
injection molder, construction worker, or cook helper.
added an additional limitation, that the “claimant
could not concentrate and attend to job tasks more than 15
minutes at a time without being distracted for two to three
minutes at a time.” The VE responded this limitation
would not preclude employment. (AR 56).
Claimant's attorney asked the VE whether a hypothetical
claimant with the same limitations along with a social
limitation of “not consistently going to be able to
respond appropriately to instructions or to criticism.”
(AR 57). The VE answered that there was very little tolerance
at an unskilled work setting for this kind of response. (AR
written Decision, the ALJ applied the standard five-step
sequential evaluation process and ultimately found that
Teague was not disabled. The ALJ determined that Teague
satisfied step one because he had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since September 5, 2012, the application
date. (AR 13).
two, the ALJ found that Teague had the following severe
impairments: schizoaffective disorder, antisocial personality
disorder, history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), history of explosive disorder, and history of conduct
disorder. (AR 13). In finding these impairments, the ALJ
considered the statements and opinions from Dr.
Witherspoon's consultative examination and psychological
evaluation. Dr. Witherspoon administered the (WAIS-IV) and
found that the Claimant had a full scale IQ of 62, a verbal
comprehension index score of 63. (AR 13). However, the ALJ
discounted the scores, finding that Teague's high school
records did not indicate that he has an intellectual
disability. Although the records indicate that the Claimant
was placed in special education, his primary disability was
described as “Other Health Impairment, ” focusing
on his behavioral problems. Further, the ALJ found that
although the Claimant alleged illiteracy, the school records
do not indicate that he had issues with literacy. The ALJ
also referenced the Claimant's activities of daily living
(ADLs) to support her determination that he functioned
“at a much higher level than one would expect with a
diagnosis of mental retardation.” (AR 14).
three, the ALJ found that the medical evidence did not
establish that Teague's impairments met or medically
equals the severity of a listed impairments, either
individually or in combination. (AR 14). Specifically, the
ALJ found that the Claimant did not meet the mental listings
of 12.02 (organic mental disorders), 12.04 (affective
disorders), or 12.08 (personality disorders). (AR 14).
Remarkably, the ALJ did not mention Listing 12.05
(intellectual disability) in her Decision. The ALJ also found
that Teague has a mild restriction in activities of daily
living and moderate ...