United States District Court, D. Delaware
Oderah C. Nwaeze, Esq., Attorney for Plaintiff. Wilmington, DE,
Charles M. Oberly III, United States Attorney, Wilmington, DE;
Heather Benderson, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Philadelphia, PA, Attorneys for Defendant.
RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.
Plaintiff, James Henry Carley, appeals the decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner"), denying his application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-33, 1381-83f. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) & 1383(c)(3).
Presently pending before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Carley and the Commissioner. (D.I. 8, 10). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, denies the Commissioner's motion, and remands for further proceedings.
A. Procedural History
Carley filed his application for DIB on October 8, 2010 and SSI on March 16, 2013, alleging disability beginning on November 22, 2005, due to bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and psychosis. (D.1. 6 (hereafter "Tr.") at 123-33, 176-77, 187-90). Carley's applications were initially denied on March 29, 2011 and again were denied upon reconsideration on August 4, 2011. (Tr. at 123-33). Thereafter, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (the "ALJ") on April 24, 2013. (Tr. at 36-75). At the hearing, the onset date of Carley's disability was amended to September 15, 2010. (Tr. at 39). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 6, 2013. (Tr. at 15-30). The Appeals Council denied Carley's request for review on October 1, 2014. (Tr. at 1-6). Carley filed this lawsuit on
B. Plaintiff's Medical History, Condition, and Treatment
On the amended alleged onset date of disability, Carley was twenty-seven years old and defined as a "younger individual" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c). (Tr. at 28, 176). Carley has a twelfth grade education and has relevant work experience as a lot attendant, a lubrication technician, a mail sorter, a retail warehouse worker, a retail clerk, a cashier, and a spot welder. (Tr. at 71, 204-05).
Carley's detailed medical history is contained in the record, but the Court will provide a brief summary of the pertinent evidence. Carley suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and has a history of alcohol and substance abuse. (Tr. at 20, 279).
In 2005, Carley was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and polysubstance abuse. (Tr. at 252). On August 16, 2010, therapist Linda Young evaluated Carley. Ms. Young diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia with psychosis, bipolar disorder, and a history of cocaine and marijuana use. (Tr. at 273, 279). Carley reported having difficulty concentrating, being uncomfortable around people, and sometimes believing he was the Holy Spirit or the Anti-Christ. (Tr. at 273, 276). Carley reported that he currently lived with his parents, but would like to live alone. (Tr. at 276). On a typical day, Carley reported that he exercised, used the computer, and did some yard work. Id.
On August 30, 2010, Carley had a follow-up session with Ms. Young and reported problems with anger management and anxiety. (Tr. at 290). At a session on September 23, 2010, Ms. Young observed that Carley seemed to be abstaining from substances, but that he still had problems concentrating. (Tr. at 289). On October 8, 2010, Carley reported having paranoia and discussed his symptoms of psychosis. Id. On October 25, 2010, Carley reported that he was still drinking beer and having ongoing social anxiety. Ms. Young advised him not to use alcohol. (Tr. at 288).
On October 29, 2010, Carley began to see Nana Berikashvili, M.D. (Tr. at 284). Dr. Berikashvili diagnosed schizophrenia (paranoid type) and cocaine abuse. Id. Carley reported hearing male voices - sometimes very loud- every night. (Tr. at 284). Dr. Berikashvili prescribed him Abilify, Stelazine, Celexa, and Clonazepam. Id. On November 12, 2010, at a follow-up session with Dr. Berikashvili, Carley reported a decrease in the voices he previously heard. (Tr. at 283).
On December 1, 2010, Carley saw Ms. Young. (Tr. at 334). He reported "doing well, " but had three to four beers daily. Id. On December 13, 2010, at an appointment with Dr. Berikashvili, Carley stated that he no longer heard any voices. (Tr. at 324). He reported no depression or psychotic symptoms, but mentioned sleepiness during the day. Id. He was recommended to continue the same medications. Id. On January 4, 2011, Carley had a routine therapy appointment with Ms. Young. (Tr. at 333). During a January 10, 2011 psychiatric session with Dr. Berikashvili, Carley reported that he still heard voices, mostly in late evenings. (Tr. at 323). Dr. Berikashvili recommended an increase in Stelazine and a decrease in Abilify and prescribed Klonopin and Benzatropine. Id.
On January 19, 2011, Carley disclosed to Ms. Young that he had a job interview but was prepared not to be hired. (Tr. at 332). He continued to experience social anxiety and had limited insight into his mental illness. Id. On February 7, 2011, he informed Ms. Young that he continued to drink two to three beers daily. (Tr. at 330). On February 24 and April 13, 2011, he visited Dr. Berikashvili and reported that the voices were under control, and that there was no delusional thinking. (Tr. at 322). On April 26, 2011, however, Carley described having some delusions, and Dr. Berikashvili added Gabapentin to his other medications. (Tr. at 321).
On April 29, 2011, Dr. Berikashvili filled out a Mental Impairment Questionnaire (RFC & Listings) for Carley. (Tr. at 352-57). Dr. Berikashvili diagnosed Carley with Schizophrenia (paranoid type). (Tr. at 352). She found that Carley was responding partially to current medications. Id. Clinical findings ...