United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Arthur Alford, Jr. appeals the Administrative Law Judge's
denial of his application for Social Security benefits.
Alford argues that the ALJ erred at step three by finding his
I.Q. score is invalid, failing to send him for an additional
examination, and failing to summon a medical expert. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court finds these were not
errors. Alford's brief in support of appeal [Filing
No. 17] is denied and the Commissioner's decision is
was released from Pendleton Correctional Facility in early
2013 after at least six years of incarceration. On May 28, 2013,
Alford filed an application for supplemental security income,
alleging disability beginning May 23, 2013. Alford was
referred to Dr. Schmutte for a consultative psychological
exam, which occurred on June 28, 2013. This exam is the
centerpiece of this appeal.
Schmutte's report begins by identifying that
“Alford acknowledged that he understood the purpose of
the evaluation to be related to his recent claim for
disability benefits.” [Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p.
146.] Alford described himself as angry, moody, and
worried. Alford confided in Dr. Schmutte that he witnessed
his mother's murder and that he believes he can see her
occasionally. According to the report, Alford has never
received professional mental health services, is not taking
medication, has trouble sleeping, does not know his family
health history, and does not use substances other than an
Schmutte's report describes Alford's social history,
that he lives with his sister, is single, and has at least
four children. Alford completed ninth grade and never pursued
a GED, last worked at Hardee's and K-Mart in the 1990s,
and never served in the military. Alford reported that he
independently completes activities of daily living. His
sister typically cooks and cleans for him, although he
sometimes assists with laundry and microwaving food. Alford
also relies on his sister financially because he has no bank
account, no health insurance, and his only income is food
stamps. Alford sometimes goes to the park with his son, but
does not have friends, and he is emotionally supported by his
sister, an aunt, and some cousins.
Schmutte noted that upon performing a mental examination,
Alford's “responses were terse and reflected his
level of annoyance that appear to be part of his everyday
demeanor. At times he provided short snippy responses and
then stared at the examiner as though the questions asked of
him were absurd.” [Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p.
148.] For example:
For the season of the year, he curtly responded, ‘I
don't know.' He refused to estimate the time of day
without looking at the clock. . . . He identified his
location as ‘in your office talking to you asking me
questions.' . . . When asked to interpret the proverb
‘Don't cry over spilled milk, he shrugged and
responded ‘If you spilled the milk I guess.' For
the proverb ‘Don't judge a book by its cover, '
he responded with a shrug.
When asked to count forward from 1 by serial three's, he
stated that he did not understand the task and, due to his
level of frustration and lack of motivation, the examiner
made the decision to move forward.
[Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p. 149-50.]
Schmutte also attempted to administer an I.Q. test to Alford.
However, Alford did not engage in the testing process. In
particular, Dr. Schmutte noted:
Toward the end of the evaluation, while sitting straight up
in a chair, he closed his eyes and his head fell toward his
chest and he was asleep for a few moments. The examiner
allowed him to sleep and when he looked up he appeared to be
startled. While it is likely that his intellectual
functioning is below average, these scores are at least
partially the result of his poor level of motivation and
[Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p. 149-50.] Dr. Schmutte
reported Alford's full scale I.Q. score as 58, but she
did “not feel that [she] can provide an accurate
diagnosis with regards to his intellectual functioning”
because of his poor motivation during administration of the
I.Q. test. [Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p. 153.]
Ultimately, Dr. Schmutte offered her ...