United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Earl Willis Guyette, Jr.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security
MCCAFFERTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Guyette seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration, denying his application for
supplemental security income under Title XVI. Guyette moves
to reverse the Acting Commissioner's decision, and the
Acting Commissioner moves to affirm. For the reasons
discussed below, the decision of the Acting Commissioner is
reversed, and the case is remanded to the Acting Commissioner
for further proceedings.
reviewing the final decision of the Acting Commissioner in a
social security case, the court “is limited to
determining whether the [Administrative Law Judge] 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 Administrative Law Judge's factual findings
as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Fischer v. Colvin,
831 F.3d 31, 34 (1st Cir. 2016). “Substantial-evidence
review is more deferential than it might sound to the lay
ear: though certainly ‘more than a scintilla' of
evidence is required to meet the benchmark, a preponderance
of evidence is not. Purdy v. Berryhill, 887 F.3d 7,
13 (1st Cir. 2018) (internal citation omitted).
“Rather, the court must uphold the Commissioner's
findings if a reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the
record as a whole, could accept it as adequate to support her
determining whether a claimant is disabled for purposes of
social security benefits, the ALJ follows a five-step
sequential analysis. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The claimant
bears the burden through the first four steps of proving that
his impairments preclude him from working. Purdy, 887 F.3d at
9. At the fifth step, the Acting Commissioner has the burden
of showing that jobs exist which the claimant can do.
Heggarty v. Sullivan, 947 F.2d 990, 995 (1st Cir.
detailed statement of the facts can be found in the
parties' Joint Statement of Material Facts (doc. no. 13).
The court provides a brief summary of the case here.
applied for supplemental security income on March 6, 2015,
alleging a disability onset date of September 29, 2014, when
he was 33 years old. He alleged a disability due to
depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder
(“ADD”), hyperactivity disorder
(“HD”), and post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). At the time of his alleged disability
onset date, he had obtained his GED, and had worked as a
mechanic, a roofer, an HVAC installer, a painter, a factory
worker, a nursing home worker, and a laundromat worker.
medical evidence in the administrative record appears to
start with Guyette's emergency treatment and subsequent
admission at Elliot Hospital on November 22, 2004, because of
an overdose. The report notes that Guyette's infant son
had died a month before of SIDS. He was diagnosed at that
time with an adjustment disorder, substance abuse, and a
history of ADD. Guyette was treated at Concord Hospital in
June 2006 following another suicide attempt.
parties' summary of the medical evidence begins with
Guyette's appointment with his primary care physician,
Dr. Rory Richardson, on September 29, 2014. Guyette was seen
because of “worsening mood.” He reported that he
had been fired from his job because of his poor attitude. He
reported having trouble sleeping. He was crying and emotional
during the interview. Dr. Richardson noted depression and
added medication. He also recommended counseling. Dr.
Richardson continued to see Guyette during the relevant
Pike, Ph.D., did a consultative examination in January 2015.
She found that Guyette had hyper motor activity, no evidence
of a thought disorder, rational speech, and good eye contact
although he was tearful. She also found that he was depressed
with flashbacks and intrusive memories, was properly
oriented, had average intelligence, and impaired memory.
6, 2015, JoAnne Coyle, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist,
found that Guyette could understand and remember simple
instructions, could sustain attention and concentration for
simple tasks, and maintain effort for two-hour periods in a
work day with some degree of self-pacing. He could have
infrequent and brief interaction with the public, participate
in typical interactions with co-workers and supervisors while
doing simple nonsocial tasks, and adapt to minor changes in
July 2015 to July 2016, Guyette received counseling at The
Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester with Laima Niemi,
M.Ed., and Amanda Hapenny, ARPN. The records show that
Guyette was oriented, but his mood was anxious and depressed,
and his affect was restricted. He was late and missed