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Mosley v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

July 17, 2017

NANCY BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Jeffrey Mosley appeals the Social Security Administration's decision to deny his application for Social Security disability benefits. An administrative law judge found that Mosley was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Mosley raises a number of challenges to this determination, but I conclude that the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence. I will, therefore, affirm the decision of the ALJ.


         Jeffrey S. Mosley applied for disability benefits alleging disability as of February 1, 2012. [A.R. at 201.][2] Mosley previously filed applications for disability alleging disability beginning October 1, 2010. [A.R. at 110.] On March 1, 2012, an ALJ found that Mosley was not disabled and Mosley did not appeal that decision or request reopening. [Id. at 41-43, 111-116.] As such, the issue of Mosley's disability prior to March 1, 2012 is barred by res judicata. 20 C.F.R. § 404.957(c)(1).

         An administrative hearing was held in January 2014 in front of Administrative Law Judge Julia D. Gibbs. [Id. at 38.] The ALJ issued a decision on July 18, 2014 in which she found that Mosley was not disabled at any time through the date of her decision. [Id. at 18.] The Appeals Council denied Mosley's request for review of the ALJ's decision. [Id. at 1.]

         Mosley was 41 years old at the time of his administrative hearing. [A.R. at 41.] Mosley last worked in March of 2008 as an assembly line inspector at a factory. [Id. at 43-44.] Before that, he worked as a maintenance worker for a car company. [Id. at 75.] Mosley suffers from a variety of physical and mental health issues, including shoulder pain and anxiety. [Id. at 58, 64.]

         In recent years, Mosley received medical treatment from a variety of sources. From 2011 to 2012, Mosley sought treatment from Dr. Donald Roegner at the Family Psychiatric Center, but Mosley only met sporadically with Dr. Roegner, who stated that he could not make significant progress with a “flagrant bipolar” if he saw him so infrequently. [Id. at 311.] On February 14, 2012, Dr. William Hedrick examined Mosley, diagnosing him with occipital neuralgia and several problems with his shoulders and elbows. [Id. at 339.] On January 21, 2013, Dr. Russell Coulter-Kern conducted a consultative examination of Mosley for the Social Security Administration; he diagnosed Mosley with Bipolar 1 disorder and assigned him a GAF score of 40-45. [Id. at 399-400.] In February 2013, Dr. William Terpstra examined Mosley, diagnosing him with Polyarticular Arthralgias-a form of joint pain, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. [Id. at 402.] Dr. Terpstra also opined that Mosley “would be able to stand/walk for most if not all of an 8 hour day and could use the upper extremities for lifting/carrying less than 10 [pounds] frequently and over 10 [pounds] occasionally and maintain good balance while doing so during that time frame.” [Id.] On May 5, 2013, Dr. William Shipley examined Mosley and opined that Dr. Russel-Kern's assigned GAF score of 40-45 is not supported. [Id. at 144]. Dr. Shipley also opined that Mosley has “mild” restriction of activities of daily living, “moderate” difficulties in maintaining social functioning, “moderate” difficulties in maintaining concentration, and no repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration. [Id. at 143.] On May 8, 2013, Dr. A. Dobson opined that Mosley can frequently lift twenty five pounds and can stand/walk for about six hours in an eight-hour workday. [Id. at 145.]

         Throughout 2013, Mosley was treated by nurse practitioners Monica McMain and Debra Graber, along with Dr. Rafik Farag. [Id. at 480-512.] On October 30, 2013, Nurse Practitioner Graber examined Mosley and opined that he suffers from bipolar syndrome, filling out a form indicating as follows: that Mosley suffers “moderate” restriction of activities of daily living, “marked” difficulties in maintaining social functioning, “marked”deficiencies of concentration, and “extreme” episodes of decompensation in work-like settings. [Id. at 542.] In late 2013, Mosley began receiving therapy from the Four County Counseling Center, where he saw Mark Reef and Dr. Kathleen Miller. [Id. at 565-587.] Mosley also has been seeing Dr. Brian Dierckman for troubles with his shoulders and back, though Dr. Dierckman noted “no acute fracture or dislocation.” [Id. at 626-629.]

         At the hearing, Mosley testified that his mental and physical health issues keep getting worse. Mosley testified that he had “more anxiety” than in previous years, “more difficulty going out in public, ” that he is “paranoid, ” and that he hesitates to go anywhere without his wife. [Id. at 58-59.] Mosley also testified that he consistently experiences physical discomfort, and that he cannot sit in a single position without shifting his body for more than twenty or thirty minutes. [Id. at 61-62.] He also testified that he struggles to lift even a gallon of milk with his right arm. [Id. at 63-64]. While Mosley recounted that he struggles to do household chores, he also said that he can cook and mow the lawn, though it can take him a few days to finish the work. [Id. at 65, 70.]

         The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. At Step One, the ALJ found that Mosley last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2013. [Id. at 23.] Further, the ALJ found that Mosley did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date through the date last insured of December 31, 2013. [Id.] At Step Two, the ALJ concluded that Mosley has the following severe impairments: cervicalgia, degenerative disc disease, arthropathy of the right shoulder, obesity, bipolar disorder, depression, and personality disorder. [Id.] At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Mosley's impairments or combination of impairments do not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments. [Id. at 24-26.]

         At Step Four, the ALJ found that Mosley has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a). Here is Mosley's RFC as determined by the ALJ:

[He can] perform unskilled work at a sedentary level of exertion... that does not require overhead reaching with the dominant right arm or more than superficial contact with coworkers or supervisors.

[Id. at 26.] At Step Five, the ALJ concluded that considering the Mosley's age, education, work experience, and residual funcational capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Mosley can perform, and that a ...

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