United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
GABRIEL A. FUENTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Wendy S.,  moves for reversal and remand of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying her application for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). (D.E. 14.)
The Commissioner has filed a response brief, asking this
Court to affirm the Commissioner's decision. (D.E. 22.)
The matter is now fully briefed. For the following reasons,
the Court grants Plaintiffs motion and remands the case.
applied for DIB on August 20, 2014, alleging she has been
unable to work due to mental impairments since the alleged
onset date of her disability on May 14, 2011, which was later
amended to October 16, 2012. (R. 38.) Her date last insured
("DLI") was June 30, 2013. (R. 17.) After her claim was
denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff received a
hearing on January 17, 2017 before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ"). (R. 33.) On March 13, 2017, the ALJ
issued a decision denying Plaintiffs claim. (R. 28.) The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review of the
ALJ's decision, making the ALJ's ruling the final
decision of the Commissioner. (R. 1.) See Lanigan v.
Berryhill, 865 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2017).
was born on December 6, 1971. (R. 26.) She was first treated
for major depressive disorder in 2005, three weeks after
giving birth to her daughter, and she was prescribed an
anti-depressant. (R. 464.) In 2007, after her grandfather
died, Plaintiff was hospitalized after exhibiting psychotic
symptoms, and her mood stabilized with medication. (R. 464.)
Plaintiff lives in her parents' home with her daughter.
She last worked in 2011, earning $3, 625.51 working part time
at Target as a stock clerk. (R. 275.) In 2009 and 2010,
Plaintiff earned between $7, 000.00 and $8, 000.00 doing the
same work. (Id.)
2010, Plaintiff received treatment from psychiatrist Alicia
Martin, M.D., for bipolar disorder type II. (R. 458.) Dr.
Martin prescribed her Zoloft and Seroquel, and throughout
2010, Plaintiffs mood was stable with
medication. (R. 455-60.) On February 7, 2011,
Plaintiff presented to Dr. Martin feeling depressed and
irritable over her daughter's oppositional and
disobedient behavior; Dr. Martin increased Plaintiffs dose of
Seroquel to 200 mg and recommended that she receive
counseling (R. 461-62.) In March 2011, Plaintiff was still
having problems with depression and mood swings, but she was
feeling better with the increased dose of Seroquel. (R. 464.)
Dr. Martin noted that Plaintiff was unable to work full-time
due to her continued problems with episodic mood instability.
(R. 465.) In April and May 2011, Plaintiff did not report
mood swings or depression, but she was still worried about
her daughter's behavior. (R. 467-68.)
29, 2011, Plaintiff reported to Dr. Martin that she had quit
her job at Target because she felt anxious and nauseated
every time she went to work, and her supervisor indicated to
her that she was slow and unable to keep up with her job. (R.
469.) Plaintiff reported that she felt much better since
leaving her job. (Id.) In July, August and October
2011, Dr. Martin's mental examinations of Plaintiff were
normal. (R. 470-71.)
December 20, 2011, Plaintiff reported to Dr. Martin that she
became nervous and nauseated when she tried to apply for
jobs. (R. 472.) She was also having periods of sadness and
depression, so Dr. Martin increased her daily dose of Zoloft
to 150 mg. (Id.) Dr. Martin noted that she had
encouraged Plaintiff "to combine treatment with
counseling for quite some time, but she gave reasons or
excuses for not being able to see the therapist."
(Id.) In January 2012, Plaintiff "insist[ed]
that she is unable to work due to problems with anxiety at
times so severe that she feels nauseated and vomits when she
has these symptoms." (R. 474.)
April 2012, Plaintiff reported to Dr. Martin that she was
having mood swings, irritability and mild racing thoughts at
night. (R. 476.) Dr. Martin increased her dose of Seroquel to
250 mg. (Id.). The next month, although Plaintiff
still got "very upset" sometimes, Dr. Martin moved
the dose back to 200 mg because Plaintiff did not like the
effects of a higher dose. (R. 480.)
2012, Plaintiff began receiving therapy from Rob Luck, LCSW,
LPHA, MSW. (R. 478.) During their May and June sessions,
Plaintiff reported that she preferred to stay inside her
house. (R. 478, 481.) She was having problems with anger
toward her family members, and she was tearful and sad due to
the recent passing of family members. (R. 483.) Dr.
Martin's mental examinations of Plaintiff remained
normal; Dr. Martin noted that Plaintiff sometimes felt sad,
especially on the anniversary of a loved one's death, but
she did not experience symptoms of major depression or
psychosis. (R. 485-86, 551.)
November 2012, Mr. Luck noted that Plaintiff was more
depressed, tearful and focused on death. (R. 488.) Plaintiff
told Dr. Martin that there were significant stressors in her
life, including ailing family members and concerns about
child support, but Plaintiff continued to do well with her
medications, and Dr. Martin did not observe any signs of
depression or hypomania. (R. 490-92.) On April 25, 2013, Dr.
Martin completed a psychiatric reassessment of Plaintiff.
(R.493.) Dr. Martin opined that "[e]ven though the
patient's symptoms are ameliorated with the current doses
of Seroquel and Zoloft, her symptoms limit her social
involvement and the symptoms of her mental illness affects
her ability to function at her normal level, causing her some
relationship problems at work and poor performance." (R.
2013, Plaintiffs insurance stopped covering the extended
release Seroquel she had been taking, so Dr. Martin
prescribed the same dose (200 mg) of Seroquel immediate
release. (R. 495.) With the new medication, Plaintiff
experienced a recurrence of "very disturbing"
auditory hallucinations, where she heard someone calling her
name. (R. 497.) Dr. Martin increased the dose of Seroquel to
300 mg and noted that although Plaintiff could complete her
activities of daily living ("ADLs"), she was
"unable to work, as the symptoms of her mental illness
affect social involvement and also ability to function."
September 2013, Plaintiff was no longer experiencing auditory
hallucinations, and her mood was stable. (R. 501.) She began
meeting with a new therapist, David Hughes, LCSW, LPHA, MSW.
(R. 499.) In September and October 2013, Plaintiff told Mr.
Hughes that she was stressed and frustrated with trying to
raise her daughter in her parents' household, and she had
frequent conflicts with her parents about raising her
daughter. (R. 503-05.) In November 2013, Plaintiff reported
to Dr. Martin that she was having problems with irritability
during the day. (R. 507.) In addition to Seroquel 300 mg at
bedtime, Dr. Martin added a small dose of Seroquel, 50 mg, to
be taken during the day. (Id.)
February 5, 2014, Dr. Martin increased Plaintiffs dose of
Zoloft to 200 mg to help alleviate her increased depressive
symptoms, including sadness, low energy and lack of
motivation. (R. 516.) The following month, Plaintiff told Mr.
Hughes that she was experiencing periods of increased anxiety
that led her to withdraw into her room. (R. 519.) On March 3,
2014, Mr. Hughes wrote a letter opining that medication
reduces but does not eliminate Plaintiffs symptoms of
isolation, angry outbursts, anxiety and agoraphobia, which
sometimes caused her to become physically sick in crowds of
people. (R. 441.)
April 9, 2014, Plaintiffs father attended her meeting with
Dr. Martin. (R. 520.) Plaintiff and her father accused Dr.
Martin of reporting that Plaintiff was able to work, and thus
causing Plaintiff to be denied Social Security benefits.
(Id.) Dr. Martin stated that to the contrary, she
had opined Plaintiff was unable to work because her symptoms
of mental illness affect her level of functioning.
(Id.) Dr. Martin noted that Plaintiffs mood was
unstable; although she was initially calm, she easily became
very angry and stormed out of the office when Dr. Martin
asked her not to yell. (Id.) Later that month,
Plaintiff told Mr. Hughes that she was experiencing increased
anxiety as well as manic episodes during which she
experienced increased energy and cleaned her house non-stop.
2014, Plaintiffs father submitted a "function
report" stating that Plaintiff had a "very hard
time interacting with people" and preferred not to
interact outside the home. (R. 302, 307.) In addition, he
wrote that Plaintiff got lost easily, had a very short temper
and did not deal well with pressure. (Id.) He
explained that he and his wife help care for Plaintiffs
daughter; Plaintiff takes her daughter to school but then
goes back to bed. (R. 303, 307.) Also that month, a
non-examining state agency psychologist, Donald Henson,
Ph.D., reviewed the record and opined that Plaintiff had
severe affective disorders which caused moderate limitations
in her ADLs, social functioning, and concentration,
persistence or pace, including in her ability to carry out
detailed instructions, perform activities within a schedule,
maintain regular attendance, complete a normal workday and
workweek without interruption from psychologically based
symptoms, perform at a consistent pace without an
unreasonable number and length of rest periods and interact
appropriately with the general public. (R. 122-25.)
2014, Plaintiff began seeing psychiatrist Syed Anwar, M.D. He
initially continued her on the same medications - 200 mg of
Zoloft and 50 mg plus 300 mg of Seroquel - but in August
2014, Plaintiff reported increased daytime anxiety, and Dr.
Anwar increased her morning dose of Seroquel to 100 mg. (R.
587-88.) In October 2014, Dr. Anwar noted that Plaintiff
appeared anxious and had a lot of mood instability. (R. 589.)
Plaintiff reported that the medication makes her very sleepy,
and she recently got in trouble with the police.
(Id.) Dr. Anwar had Plaintiff go back to Seroquel 50
mg in morning and added a prescription for
Lamictal. (R. 590.) In November ...