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Irish v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

June 6, 2017

Jonathon Irish
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration Opinion No. 2017 DNH 105

          ORDER

          Joseph DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge

         Jonathon Irish seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, denying his application for supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381, et seq. Irish moves to reverse, contending that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in assessing his residual functional capacity and in finding that there were jobs he could do despite his impairments. The Acting Commissioner moves to affirm.

         Standard of Review

          In reviewing the final decision of the Acting Commissioner in a social security case, the court “is limited to determining whether the ALJ deployed the proper legal standards and found facts upon the proper quantum of evidence.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999); accord Seavey v. Barnhart, 276 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2001). The court defers to the ALJ's factual findings as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. § 405(g); see also Fischer v. Colvin, 831 F.3d 31, 34 (1st Cir. 2016). If the Acting Commissioner used the correct legal standard and the findings are supported by substantial evidence, the court must affirm the decision, even if the record could support a different conclusion. Irlanda Ortiz v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765, 770 (1st Cir. 1991); Evangelista v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 826 F.2d 136, 144 (1st Cir. 1987).

         Background

         Irish was twenty-eight years old when he filed an application for supplemental security income benefits in December of 2014. He has a high school education.

         During his childhood, Irish lost his left eye in an accident and was the victim of abuse perpetrated by his father. His father was removed from the home when he was ten or eleven. His mother applied for disability for Irish while he was a child. Irish wears a prosthetic left eye.

         Irish was arrested in November of 2013 on federal charges. Pursuant to a court order, Irish was evaluated by Dr. Samantha DiMisa to determine whether he was competent to stand trial. Dr. DiMisa diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder, attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and anti-social personality disorder and found that Irish's prognosis was optimistic. Dr. DiMisa concluded that Irish understood the legal proceedings against him, was able to assist counsel in his defense and make decisions regarding his defense, and was competent to stand trial.

         On December 11, 2014, Irish pleaded to two of the charges against him and was sentenced to eighteen months of imprisonment with three years of supervised release. He was released based on time served on February 20, 2015.

         After he was released from prison, Irish had an evaluation of his prosthetic eye at Eyesight New Hampshire in March of 2015. He was diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis. Irish also began mental health counseling in March of 2015 when he left prison with Counselor Kris Geno at RTT Associates.

         In May of 2015, Irish met with Dr. Robert Prescott for a consultative psychological examination related to his application for social security benefits. Dr. Prescott reviewed Irish's history in addition to talking to Irish about his past mental health issues and treatment. Dr. Prescott diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder and antisocial personality disorder and noted that Irish's ability to handle moderate to high levels of stress was impaired but he could make basic decisions and interact politely with others in a work environment, although it would cause distress. He gave Irish a guarded prognosis because of his questionable insight and legal record.

         Also in May of 2015, state agency psychologist Dr. Stephen Kleinman reviewed Irish's records and prepared a residual functional capacity opinion. Dr. Kleinman found that Irish had marked limitation in his ability to interact with the public, moderate limitation in his ability to ask simple questions and ask for assistance, and moderate limitation in his ability to get along with co-workers. Dr. Kleinman found that generally Irish would do poorly in interacting with the public but could interact with other people to do simple tasks.

         In June of 2015, a state agency physician, Dr. Maghana Karande, reviewed Irish's records and stated that Irish's vision impairment was not severe.

         Irish continued regular counseling sessions with Counselor Geno. Geno continued to record the results of counseling sessions through the summer of 2015. By the fall, Geno noted that Irish had begun to miss appointments because of issues, including his wife's health, his landlord, and problems ...


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