U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Public Health — disability benefits
Where the ALJ concluded that a disability claimant was able to work despite hallucinations, uncontrollable rage, COPD and chronic bifrontal tension headaches, the denial of benefits must be reversed.
“Indeed, the Commissioner seems to be suggesting that the hypothetical and the mental RFC adequately accounted for Yurt’s limitations in concentration, persistence, and pace by limiting Yurt to unskilled work. But we have repeatedly rejected the notion that a hypothetical like the one here confining the claimant to simple, routine tasks and limited interactions with others adequately captures temperamental deficiencies and limitations in concentration, persistence, and pace. See generally Stewart, 561 F.3d at 685 (collecting cases); see also Craft, 539 F.3d at 677–78 (restricting claimant to unskilled, simple work does not account for his difficulty with memory, concentration, and mood swings); Young v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 995, 1004 (7th Cir. 2004); see also SSR 85-15, 1985 WL 56857 at *6 (1985) (‘[B]ecause response to the demands of work is highly individualized, the skill level of a position is not necessarily related to the difficulty an individual will have in meeting the demands of the job. A claimant’s [mental] condition may make performance of an unskilled job as difficult as an objectively more demanding job.’). The ALJ specifically found at Step 4 that Yurt had ‘moderate difficulties … [w]ith regard to concentration, persistence, or pace.’ These limitations were highlighted again in Dr. Lovko’s findings on the MRFCA form. Beyond stating that Yurt could perform ‘unskilled task[s] without special considerations,’ the hypothetical does nothing to ensure that the VE eliminated from her responses those positions that would prove too difficult for someone with Yurt’s depression and psychotic disorder. Nor is this a case like Simila v. Astrue, 573 F.3d 503, 522 (7th Cir. 2009), where the hypothetical describes the claimant’s underlying mental diagnoses (chronic pain syndrome and somatoform disorder) and the link between those conditions and the mental limitations is clear. In short, although the ALJ’s hypothetical contained several limitations accounting for Yurt’s difficulties in social functioning, the blanket statement that he could perform ‘unskilled’ work fails to accurately capture Yurt’s documented difficulties with concentration, persistence, and pace. This failure to build an ‘accurate and logical bridge’ between the evidence of mental impairments and the hypothetical and the mental RFC requires us to remand for further proceedings. See O’Connor-Spinner, 627 F.3d at 620–21; Craft, 593 F.3d at 677–78.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Cosbey, Mag. J., Rovner, J.