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Public Health — disability benefits

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit

Civil

Public Health — disability benefits

Where the ALJ ignored the extensive medical history in the record and emphasized contradictions with the opinions of the government’s doctors, the denial of benefits must be reversed.

“Dr. Beyer’s reports indicate that Farrell was suffering from anxiety and depression as early as 2003. For example, her notes from July 2003 state that Farrell was suffering from ‘increased anxiety . . . l[eading] her to increased panic attacks,’ and the report from December flags increasing anxiety. These ailments persisted. Dr. Beyer’s reports from 2005 and 2006 continue to refer to Farrell’s anxiety, stress, depression, along with new bouts of panic attacks in June 2005. Farrell was hospitalized on more than one occasion because of her suicidal tendencies, and she admitted to cutting her wrist with a plastic knife to relieve stress. Dr. Beyer noted that Farrell found it difficult to let go of situations that were beyond her control. It was only the thought of her own children that deterred her from committing suicide. It is true that some reports, such as those from August 2004, indicated improvements in Farrell’s condition, but these successes were only temporary. Farrell’s GAF score similarly vacillated, but it only sporadically moved outside of the ‘severe’ zone. Farrell’s RFC should not have been measured exclusively by her best days; when a patient like Farrell is only unpredictably able to function in a normal work environment, the resulting intermittent attendance normally precludes the possibility of holding down a steady job. Cf. EEOC v. Yellow Freight Sys., 253 F.3d 943, 949-52 (7th Cir. 2001) (en banc). Matters would be different if the ALJ had confronted Dr. Beyer’s opinions and had explained why he was rejecting them. But he did not. Instead, he ignored the extensive medical history in the record and emphasized contradictions with the opinions of the government’s doctors. This was error. See Gudgel v. Barnhart, 345 F.3d 467, 470 (7th Cir. 2003).”

Reversed and Remanded.

11-3589 Farrell v. Astrue

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Rodovich, Mag. J., Wood, J.


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