United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
DiClerico, Jr., United States District Judge
McRedmond seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security, denying her application for disability insurance
benefits under Title II and supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
McRedmond moves to reverse, contending that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) failed to
properly consider the opinion of Dr. Dinan and erred in
assessing her residual functional capacity. The Acting
Commissioner moves to affirm.
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). Substantial evidence is
“more than a mere scintilla.” Richardson v.
Peralles, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). When the record
could support differing conclusions, the court must uphold
the ALJ's findings “if a reasonable mind, reviewing
the evidence in the record as a whole, could accept it as
adequate to support his conclusion.” Irlanda Ortiz
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765,
769 (1st Cir. 1991) (internal quotation marks omitted).
is thirty-nine years old. She completed two years of college
and earned an Associate's Degree in office management.
McRedmond previously worked as an office clerk and a cleaner.
In support of her applications for benefits, McRedmond
represented that her ability to work was impaired by mental
and physical limitations.
Whitcher, LCMH, provided mental health counseling to
McRedmond. On January 17, 2012, Whitcher completed a form
titled “Psychological Capacities” for McRedmond.
Whitcher stated that McRedmond had been diagnosed with PTSD
and a major depressive disorder that was recurrent and
moderate. Whitcher indicated that McRedmond had no deficit
and was not limited or had only mild limitations in her
abilities to do most activities. She indicated moderate
limitations in maintaining attention, sustaining routine
without supervision, and performing at a consistent pace. No
more severe limitations were found. Whitcher, however, stated
that McRedmond was not capable of working.
February 22, 2012, William Dinan, Ph.D., did a consultative
psychological examination of McRedmond. Dr. Dinan observed
mild signs of depression and moderate signs of anxiety. He
also found that McRedmond was alert and oriented, her memory
was adequate, but her concentration was inconsistent. Based
on McRedmond's description of her history and activities,
Dr. Dinan found that McRedmond's abilities to do a
variety of activities and to understand and remember
instructions were unimpaired. With respect to task
persistence, however, Dr. Dinan found that McRedmond would be
highly variable. He found that her ability to maintain
attention and complete tasks was limited to basic and
familiar tasks and that her pace would be slow. He diagnosed
PTSD and a major depressive disorder that was recurrent and
completed another “Psychological Capabilities”
form on July 9, 2012, and again noted McRedmond's
diagnoses of PTSD and recurrent and moderate major depressive
disorder. She again found no limitations or only mild or
moderate limitations in McRedmond's abilities to function
but also stated that McRedmond was not capable of working.
agency physician, Dr. Louis Rosenthall, reviewed
McRedmond's medical records on October 16, 2012, to
evaluate her physical abilities to function. Dr. Rosenthall
found that McRedmond could perform a full range of light work
without any limitations.
Burnette, Ph.D, did a psychological evaluation of McRedmond
on October 22, 2012. Dr. Burnette reviewed Dr. Dinan's
report and examined McRedmond. Based on his examination, he
found that McRedmond was tearful and her mood was labile but
that she was alert and attentive, able to concentrate and
remain on track, and had intact memory. Based on
McRedmond's reports, Dr. Burnette found that she had
moderate limitations in her ability to do daily activities,
moderate loss in the domain of social interactions, and would
often have functional loss in work related tasks. He
diagnosed dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety, and
agency psychologist Michael Schneider, Psy.D., reviewed
McRedmond's medical records on November 6, 2012, to
evaluate her mental abilities. Dr. Schneider found that
McRedmond had no limitations in understanding, memory,
concentration, and persistence; had moderate limitations in
her ability to interact appropriately with the public and her
ability to accept instructions and criticisms; and was not
significantly limited in her ability to get along with
co-workers and to maintain socially appropriate behavior.
More specifically, Dr. Schneider found that McRedmond
retained the functional capacity to remember and carry out
instructions, including complex instructions, for extended
periods and to maintain adequate attention and complete a
normal work day. Dr. Schneider limited her work function to
an environment in which she would be able to avoid the
general public and her supervisors would not be overly
2013, McRedmond was treated by Dr. Steven Youngs for pain in
her left hip and leg. Dr. Youngs found that McRedmond was
depressed but showed no acute or apparent distress due to
pain and that her gait was normal. Dr. Youngs recommended
that McRedmond exercise and lose weight. McRedmond saw Dr.
Luchi Quinones in August of 2013 for back pain. After
reviewing McRedmond's x-rays, Dr. Quinones advised
McRedmond to exercise and prescribed vitamin D, naproxen, and
January 6, 2014, Whitcher prepared a “Summary
Note” in which she repeated McRedmond's reports
about her prior work experiences and her symptoms. On the
mental status examination report, Whitcher stated that
McRedmond was well groomed and that she had normal speech,
responsive affect, full orientation, good insight, and denied
suicidal and homicidal thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions.