United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
JOHN M. CARZOLI, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. COX MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
John M. Carzoli (“Plaintiff”) appeals the
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Defendant, ” or the “Commissioner”)
to deny his application for disability benefits. The parties
have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the
following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is granted [dkt.
18], the Commissioner's motion is denied [dkt. 22], and
the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with
suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. (R. 715.)
Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist is Dr. Matthew
Castelinos, M.D. Dr. Castelinos is an attending physician at
the Beverly Morgan Park Mental Health Center, where Plaintiff
regularly received mental health treatment. (R. 305; R.
408-477). On July 11, 2008, Dr. Castelinos completed a Mental
Impairment Questionnaire. Dr. Castelinos stated that
Plaintiff had been treating monthly with him for 30 minutes,
as well as engaging in individual therapy sessions for 60
minutes, and group therapy for 120 minutes. He diagnosed
Plaintiff with intermittent explosive disorder,
manic-depressive psychosis, and impulse control disorder. (R.
339.) He further found that Plaintiff had marked restrictions
in activities of daily living, extreme difficulties in
maintaining social functioning, constant deficiencies in
concentration, persistence, or pace, and repeated episodes of
decompensation. (R. 342.) He also found that many of
Plaintiff's mental abilities and aptitude needed for
unskilled work were poor.(R. 341-42.)
filed an application for disability insurance benefits on
April 29, 2008. (R. 90.) His application was denied initially
on August 4, 2008 and upon reconsideration on April 24, 2009.
(R. 74.) Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ, which
was held on March 11, 2010. (Id.) On July 2, 2012,
ALJ Sylke Merchan issued an opinion finding that Plaintiff
was not disabled. (R. 74-85.) Plaintiff appealed that
decision to the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, and the case was remanded for various
reasons, including the ALJ's failure to properly weigh
the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr.
Castelinos. (R. 714-731.)
remand, a new hearing before an ALJ was held on September 28,
2016. On November 23, 2016, ALJ William Spalo
denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. In reaching
this decision, the ALJ considered the opinion of Dr.
Castelinos and afforded it limited weight, because “the
record as a whole does not support Dr. Castelino's (sic)
assessment that the claimant's symptoms precluded all
work activity.” (R. 40.) As evidence, the ALJ cited
evidence in the record that Plaintiff had reported an
“overall sense of well-being, ” “was able
to communicate with peers regarding his activities, ”
“work[ed] within the legal system in order to resolve
his issues, ” and “participate[d] cooperatively
in therapy.” (R. 624.)
Security regulations direct an ALJ to evaluate each medical
opinion in the record. 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c). Because
of a treating physician's greater familiarity with the
claimant's condition and the progression of his
impairments, the opinion of a claimant's treating
physician is entitled to controlling weight as long as it is
supported by medical findings and is not inconsistent with
other substantial evidence in the record. 20 C.F.R. §
416.927(c)(2); Loveless v. Colvin, 810 F.3d 502, 507
(7th Cir. 2016); Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d at 870.
An ALJ must provide “good reasons” for how much
weight he gives to a treating source's medical opinion.
See Collins v. Astrue, 324 Fed.Appx. 516, 520 (7th
Cir. 2009); 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(2) (“We will
always give good reasons in our…decisions for the
weight we give your treating source's opinion.”).
When an ALJ decides for “good reasons” not to
give controlling weight to a treating physician's
opinion, he must determine what weight to give to it and
other available medical opinions in accordance with a series
of factors, including the length, nature, and extent of any
treatment relationship; the frequency of examination; the
physician's specialty; the supportability of the opinion;
and the consistency of the physician's opinion with the
record as a whole. Yurt v. Colvin, 758 F.3d at 860;
Moss v. Astrue, 555 F.3d 556, 561 (7th Cir. 2009);
see 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(2)-(6). An ALJ must provide
“sound explanation” for the weight he gives each
opinion. Roddy v. Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636 (7th
Cir. 2013). If he does not discuss each factor explicitly,
the ALJ should demonstrate that he is aware of and has
considered the relevant factors. Schreiber v.
Colvin, 519 F. App'x 951, 959 (7th Cir. 2013).
the Court were inclined to find that the ALJ had articulated
a “good reason” for giving Dr. Castelinos's
opinion less than controlling weight, he failed to discuss
all of the factors necessary in determining the weight to be
given any opinion evidence. In particular, the ALJ did not
consider Dr. Castelinos's specialty as a psychiatrist, or
the supportability of his opinion. Of the aforementioned
factors, the only factor discussed by the ALJ was Dr.
Mason's consistency with the record as a
whole. To the extent that he mentioned the length
or nature of the treatment, it was done in the context of
demonstrating the inconsistency of Dr. Castelinos's
opinion with the record as a whole, and was limited to the
ALJ's observation that “Dr. Castelino (sic)
indicated that he had been treating the claimant on a monthly
basis as of his July 2008 statement, but there are not
records indicating that Dr. Castelino (sic) provided any
treatment prior to this date.” (R. 624.) This is
factually incorrect; the record shows that Dr. Castelinos was
the attending physician at Beverly Morgan Park Mental Center
during Plaintiffs visit on April 25, 2008. (R. 305.) It also
fails to take into the account that Dr. Castelinos's role
as an attending physician at Plaintiffs mental health
treatment center may give him access and insight into
Plaintiffs progress, condition, and treatment. In other
words, the ALJ failed to consider the value of Dr.
Castelinos's role as a treating psychiatrist with a
longitudinal view of Plaintiff s mental health conditions.
Because the ALJ failed to follow the proper steps in weighing
Dr. Castelinos's opinion, the ALJ's opinion is
reversed, and this case is remanded for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion. 
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs motion is granted [dkt. 18],
the Commissioner's motion is denied [dkt. 22], and the
case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
 The Court construes Plaintiff's
Memorandum in Support of Reversing the Decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security as a motion for summary
 For a more detailed explanation of Dr.
Castelinos's findings, the Court refers to the previous
opinion and order issued by Judge Lefkow in this case on
December 16, 2015. (R. 714.)
 In the intervening years since his
original application, Plaintiff added a claim for
supplemental security income, which was approved. The ALJ
found “no reason to reopen and revise the ...