United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
A. Osborn, Esq. Roger B. Phillips, Esq. Luis A. Pere, Esq.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. BARBADORO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Korfiatis challenges the denial of her applications for
supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She contends
that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) who
considered her applications improperly evaluated her residual
functional capacity and erred in finding that she could
perform her past relevant work. The Acting Commissioner, in
turn, moves for an order affirming the ALJ's decision. I
grant Korfiatis's motion and remand the case to the
agency because there is no indication in the record that the
ALJ considered a medical source's opinion.
is a 35-year-old woman with two years of college education.
She has previously worked as a station cleaner, a medical
receptionist, and a security guard. Korfiatis has allegedly
been disabled since July 11, 2013, due to a combination of
rheumatoid arthritis, right wrist impairment, fibromyalgia,
asthma, spinal impairment, obesity, and depression.
applications were initially denied in October 2014. On
September 20, 2016, she testified via video at a hearing
before ALJ Matthew Levin, who ultimately denied her
applications. See Administrative Transcript
(“Tr.”) 36. The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) Appeals Council denied her request for
review in November 2017, rendering the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Acting Commissioner. See Tr. 7-13.
Korfiatis now appeals.
is 5'5” tall and weighed 360 pounds at the time of
the hearing. She fractured her right wrist in a work accident
on July 11, 2013. Following the accident, she had two hand
surgeries. Afterward, she continued complaining to her
treating providers of pain and numbness in the wrist.
Matthew Clarke, one of her providers, indicated in his
treatment notes in February, April and June 2014 that
Korfiatis was cleared to return to work, but was limited to
lifting, pushing, and pulling less than fifteen pounds
without frequent, forceful, or repetitive motions with the
right wrist. Tr. 543, 552, 555. She did not return to work at
in November 2014, Dr. Clarke changed his prognosis,
indicating that Korfiatis could not return to work because of
her right-hand pain. See Tr. 808. He repeated this
observation in treatment notes from follow-up appointments
throughout the following year. See Tr. 813, 819, 822.
addition to her right-wrist injury, Korfiatis suffered from
fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. She testified at the
hearing that her fibromyalgia has progressively worsened
since her initial diagnosis in 2007, that it affected her
knees, feet, back, and shoulders, and that it caused her
constant pain. Tr. 81. Rheumatoid arthritis exacerbated her
pain and caused swelling in her hands and legs. Tr. 82. She
testified that she could sit for about one hour on good days
but only for approximately 15 minutes on bad days, which
occurred four to five times per week. Tr. 82-83.
practitioner Dr. Concetta Oteri treated Korfiatis for
rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Oteri opined in April 2016 that due
to this condition and the associated inflammation in the
joints, Korfiatis could never lift more than 10 pounds, could
occasionally lift less than 10 pounds, could stand, walk or
sit for 30 minutes without interruption, could stand or walk
for a total of 2 hours, and could sit for a total of 4 hours
in an 8hour workday. He further opined that she could never
climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, crawl, push or pull, and could
occasionally bend, balance, reach, feel and handle. Tr.
Dr. Fredrick Ast, who treated Korfiatis over a four-year
period, opined that she could never carry any weight, could
never push or pull with her right hand, could occasionally
reach in all directions, handle, feel and finger with the
right hand, and could occasionally reach overhead, handle and
finger with the left hand. Dr. Ast further opined that
Korfiatis could never balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl,