United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
Richard Mills, United States District Judge.
action for review - - pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) - -
of the denial of the Plaintiff's claims for supplemental
security income and disability insurance benefits.
are the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Affirmance.
reasons that follow, the Court concludes that the
Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial
Tera Lynn Schartz was born in 1993. In late 2011, at the age
of 18 years old, the Plaintiff made informal applications for
supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits, alleging she became disabled on January 1, 2011,
when she was 17, due to a learning disability and ADHD. Her
only past relevant work was for two days at
“Paulette's Food Service.”
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. She requested a hearing, which was held
before Administrative Law Judge Barbara J. Welsch on January
28, 2014. The Plaintiff was represented by counsel and
testified at the hearing. In a Decision dated February 27,
2014, the ALJ denied the claim. The Appeals Council declined
review of the ALJ's Decision. The Plaintiff timely filed
Plaintiff alleges she has intellectual deficits which have
been measured throughout her formative years on a number of
occasions. On February 22, 2002, the Plaintiff's treating
psychologist, Michael Trieger, Psy. D., administered a
Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children-III (WISC-III), an
IQ test. She scored a verbal IQ of 75, a performance IQ of
69, and a full scale IQ of 70.
February 12, 2014, Dr. Trieger again evaluated the Plaintiff
for mental status and levels of intellectual functioning. He
noted she had received special education for much of her
schooling. She finished cosmetology school, but received a
number of accommodations. Dr. Trieger administered a Weschler
Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). The
Plaintiff's verbal comprehension scale was 70 (second
percentile), her perceptual reasoning was 81 (low average,
tenth percentile), her working memory was 74 (borderline
range, fourth percentile), her processing speed was 71
(borderline range, third percentile), and her full scale IQ
was 70 (borderline, second percentile). Dr. Trieger found
these scores to be “consistent with prior examinations
and indicate global skills in the borderline to mildly
impaired range, ” though he noted “[s]he displays
a relative strength in her perceptual reasoning.” He
also stated the Plaintiff “has a documented history
[of] attention deficits, depressive disorder, learning
disabilities and cognitive deficits.” R. 424. Dr.
Trieger cited the Plaintiff's mother's account in
finding that Plaintiff has “noteworthy delays/deficits
of adaptive functioning. If Tera were found eligible for SSI
benefits, she would most likely need a third party
payee.” R. 424. He diagnosed her with ADHD, residual
type, a depressive disorder, not otherwise specified, and
borderline intellectual functioning with consequential
learning disabilities. Her Global Assessment of Functioning
score was 45.
Trieger observed a number of problems when he saw the
Plaintiff as a young child in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He thought
her problems were more significant than ADHD or Oppositional
Defiant Disorder and that educating the Plaintiff would be a
challenge. He also thought there was a possibility that
learning disabilities would emerge over time.
Plaintiff qualified for special education services. In 2011,
special education personnel noted that Plaintiff's
biggest problems were difficulty organizing tasks or
projects, difficulty sustaining attention to task, failure to
finish or turn in schoolwork, she was easily distracted by
external stimuli and needs close supervision to complete
assigned tasks. She was unorganized and unprepared and had
difficulty “settling in and getting started.” R.
273. She benefitted from one-on-one situations and
“having everything read to her.” R. 273. The
Woodcock Johnson III test administered in February of 2010
indicated a broad reading score of 64, math 74, written
language 66, and oral language 69. The Plaintiff was
receiving special education class management from her school
to meet a vocational goal of attending and completing
Plaintiff's primary care physician also documented
continuing deficits in attention. She was prescribed ADHD
medication and there were documented difficulties in school
performance. The Plaintiff's mother noted some problems
March 2012 Dolores Trello, Psy. D., diagnosed the Plaintiff
with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and, based
on a clinical examination, stated the Plaintiff “may
have a limited IQ.” Like Dr. Trieger, Dr. Trello stated
she would need assistance in handling funds.
agency reviewing psychologist, Russell Taylor, Ph.D, did not
assess the Plaintiff's claim under Listing 12.05, which
addresses intellectual disorders which manifest before the
age of 22. Instead, he assessed her under Listing 12.02 for
organic mental disorders, which he described as ADHD/LD. Dr.
Taylor found that she had moderate restriction of activities
of daily living, mild difficulties in maintaining social
functioning and moderate difficulties in maintaining
concentration, persistence or pace. He based his opinion on
her full scale IQ in 1999 and noted that the Plaintiff's
treating source stated she was cooperative at an examination.
Dr. Taylor noted she reported many friends, played sports,
did self care, cleaning, laundry when she feels like it, and
had a normal affect. He referenced the fact that Dr. Trieger
said she was relevant, oriented, and without psychosis, with
an intact memory and “able to do serials.” Dr.
Taylor also stated, “CE report indicates claimant does
not drive. She handles personal care and does chores at home,
cleaning and laundry. She does not grocery shop. She lives
with adoptive mother and step father.” R. 378. Despite
noting the Plaintiff was moderately impaired in a number of
areas, Dr. Taylor opined that she “retains the mental
capacity to understand, remember and concentrate sufficiently
in order to carry out simple instructions for a normal work
period.” He found that Plaintiff “could make
simple work related decisions” and “interact with
others sufficiently in a work setting.” Dr. Taylor also
opined that she could “adapt to simple, routine changes
and pressures in the work environment.” R. 382. State
agency consultant Donna Hudspeth, Psy. D., affirmed the
findings of Dr. Taylor.
narrative report dated May 29, 2012, Dr. Trieger noted he had
been professionally acquainted with the Plaintiff since the
mid 1990's. He saw her twice in 2012 for outpatient
psychotherapy. Dr. Trieger stated she has “a history of
learning challenges and emotional difficulties” and
“[w]hile she has certainly made progress, she still has
a long way to go to reach a level of functioning that would
support independent living.” R. 385.
Trello examined the Plaintiff again for the Department of
Vocational Rehabilitation. Such an evaluation was required
for the Plaintiff to continue with her career choice. The
Plaintiff reported she has a learning disability and
struggles with reading, spelling and math. She stated she has
many friends and enjoys playing sports and “hanging
out.” Although the Plaintiff thought herself capable of
handling money, Dr. Trello noted her concentration was poor.
Dr. Trello did not utilize the Weschler Adult Intelligence
Scale but used a number of other tests. While some scores
were low average, the Plaintiff's long term retrieval was
borderline (fifth percentile) and many scores were in the low
or borderline range. For example, the Plaintiff's fluid
reasoning skills were equivalent to an average individual the
age of 10 years, 10 months; visual spatial thinking is
comparable to that of a 13-year old. The Plaintiff's
auditory processing skills were above average and comparable
to an individual the age of 28. Her worst score was in
processing speed, which measures the ability to rapidly
perform “automatic cognitive tasks, particularly when
under pressure to maintain focused attention.” R. 408.
The Plaintiff scored at the level comparable to an individual
who is 8 years and 4 months old, within the mildly mentally
retarded range of scores obtained by others at her age level
as shown by her percentile rank (0.1 percentile). She had
intra-test cognitive discrepancies.
Trello diagnosed learning deficits in broad reading and broad
mathematics and a learning disorder in written expression.
She also diagnosed ADHD and borderline intellectual
functioning. She assigned a GAF score of 50 and noted
“serious impairment in academic functioning.”
Upon considering her scores, Dr. Trello noted the following
regarding certain accommodations the Plaintiff would need for
She will do best if she is given a quiet room with few
distractions given she suffers attention deficit disorder.
She will need extra time on testing because she processes
information very slowly. She will need supervised breaks and
should require five minutes every thirty minutes of testing.
She learns best in the auditory modality and an audiocassette
with extended time might be helpful to her. She will need to
dictate her essay questions to a scribe. She will need a
calculator for mathematics.
October of 2013, the Plaintiff saw a psychiatrist, Dr.
Jennifer Hardwick. Dr. Hardwick noted the Plaintiff's
motor activity was “fidgety, ” her affect was
“blunted” and insight and judgment were
“limited.” Her mood was “okay” and
thought processes were “linear.” R. 416. Dr.
Hardwick completed a medical source statement concerning the
nature and severity of the Plaintiff's mental
impairments. She found the Plaintiff was markedly limited as
to the following: (1) the ability to remember locations and
work-like procedures; (2) the ability to understand and
remember detailed instructions of three or more steps; (3)
the ability to perform activities according to a schedule,
maintain regular attendance and be punctual; and (4) the
ability to complete a normal workday and workweek without
interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and to
perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number
and length of rest periods. Dr. Hardwick also assessed the
Plaintiff with moderate limitations in a number of areas of
functioning. Dr. Hardwick stated that work-related stressors
such as production ...