United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
David Weisman United States Magistrate Judge
November 1, 2017, the Court entered judgment in
plaintiff's favor on his appeal from defendant's
denial of his application for Social Security benefits.
(See 11/1/17 J., ECF 18.) Defendant has filed a
motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 59(e) to amend the judgment. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.
59 motion “performs a valuable function where the Court
has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision
outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the
parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of
apprehension.” Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese
Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (citing
Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannon Roofing, Inc.,
99 F.R.D. 99, 1010 (E.D. Va. 1983)). “Such problems
rarely arise[, ] and . . . motion[s] to reconsider should be
equally rare.” Id.
contends that this is one of the rare occasions on which
reconsideration is appropriate because the Court reweighed
the evidence rather than giving the ALJ's decision the
deference it is due. (Mot. Alter Amend J. at 2, ECF 19);
see Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir.
2008) (“We deferentially review the ALJ's factual
determinations and affirm the ALJ if the decision is
supported by substantial evidence in the record.”);
White v. Sullivan, 965 F.2d 133, 136 (7th Cir. 1992)
(quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971)) (stating that “substantial evidence” is
“‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'”). The Court disagrees.
rejected treating physician Fayyaz's opinion as
“inconsistent” with: (1) “intact mental
status exams and all treatment notes”; (2)
plaintiff's “demonstrated ability to work for a
significant period of time”; and (3) his lack of
difficulty with “interpersonal relationships.”
(R. 34.) First, as the Court previously explained, Dr.
Fayyaz's treatment notes are consistent with his
opinions. (See 11/1/17 Mem. Op. & Order, ECF 17
at 4.) Moreover, the treatment notes of other physicians that
the ALJ cited were from physical, not mental, examinations
and thus were not “intact mental status exams, ”
as the ALJ asserted. (See, e.g., R. 429-41, 445-47.)
Second, as the Court previously noted, the record shows that
plaintiff worked for a significant period of time
before the onset date of his disability, a fact that
sheds no light on his ability to work after the
onset date. (See 11/1/17 Mem. Op. & Order, ECF
17 at 4.) Finally, as the Court noted, the only interpersonal
relationships the record reveals plaintiff to have are with
his wife and son, and the ALJ cited no evidence for her
assertion that plaintiff has no difficulties with those
relationships. In short, the ALJ rejected Dr. Fayyaz's
opinions by: (1) ignoring the bulk of his treatment notes;
(2) cherry-picking observations of plaintiff's mental
state made by doctors who were addressing plaintiff's
physical, not psychological, complaints; (3) relying on
plaintiff's pre-onset work history; and (4) making an
unsupported assertion about the quality of his relationships
with his immediate family.
Court respectfully disagrees with defendant's assertion
that the Court reweighed the evidence considered by the ALJ.
We believe that our review was deferential, as is required.
Our concern is that the ALJ ignored medical evidence that did
not support her conclusion, failed to demonstrate a
connection between plaintiff's pre-onset employment
history and his post-onset symptomology, and asserted facts
about his personal relationships that had no apparent support
in the record, none of which is permissible. See Moon v.
Colvin, 763 F.3d 718, 721 (7th Cir. 2014) (“[T]he
ALJ must identify the relevant evidence and build a
‘logical bridge' between that evidence and the
ultimate determination.”) (citing Moore v.
Colvin, 743 F.3d 1118, 1121 (7th Cir. 2014)); Denton
v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 2010) (per
curiam) (“An ALJ has the obligation to consider all
relevant medical evidence and cannot simply cherry-pick facts
that support a finding of non-disability while ignoring
evidence that points to a disability finding.”) (citing
Myles v. Astrue, 582 F.3d 672, 678 (7th Cir. 2009)).
short, even under a deferential standard of review, the
ALJ's decision cannot be upheld.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court denies
defendant's motion to alter or amend the judgment .