United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Public Health — disability
Where the ALJ improperly discounted the opinion of a disability claimant’s treating physician, the denial of benefits must be reversed.
“The ALJ, however, gave little weight to Dr. Shahzaad’s opinion, stating that ‘Dr. Shahzaad had been treating the claimant for only 3 months and noted fair ability in most areas.’ Neither of these are the “good reasons” an ALJ must provide in order to discount a treating physician’s opinion. See Martinez v. Astrue, 630 F.3d 693, 698 (7th Cir. 2011). While length of the treatment relationship is relevant for evaluating how much weight to accord a treating physician’s evaluation, see 20 C.F.R. § 1527(c)(2)(I), in this case there was no other medical opinion for the ALJ to fall upon. The state agency examining and consultative physicians did not examine Bates for psychological illness; at the time they reviewed her record, Bates had only seen a therapist briefly after the death of her fiancé. While Bates did bear the burden of producing evidence of her impairments, if the ALJ thought this evidence insufficient— as she apparently did—it was her responsibility to recognize the need for additional evaluations. Scott v. Astrue, 647 F.3d 734, 741 (7th Cir. 2011).”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Lee, J., Kanne, J.