Bouvier v Astrue, 923 F. Supp. 2d 226 (D.R.I. 2013)

John J. McConnell, Jr., U.S. District Judge

Claimant is an Iraq was veteran deemed by the VA to have service connected PTSD.  Other diagnoses include major depression, long history of alcohol dependence, cirrhosis and esophageal varices. The ALJ denied the claim at Step V denial giving more weight to the ME and DDS reviewer than to the treating doctor and finding that the claimant could perform unskilled object oriented work.  The ALJ rejected as not credible the claimant's descriptions of the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms.

On appeal to the federal district court the case was assigned, without consent, to a magistrate judge who issued recommended decision upholding the decision of SSA.  Counsel for the claimant (David Green) filed objections to the recommended decision. The court agreed with the objections and denied SSA's motion to affirm the final ALJ decision.

The federal district court finds that the ALJ did not properly weight the evidence and did not state adequate reasons for rejecting the opinion of the treating doctor, for which voluminous support was provided by years' worth of extensive records from the VA.  The court cites SSR 96-2p and Polanco-Quinonse v Astrue, 477 Fed. Appx. 745 (1st Cir. 2012), as well as 20 CFR 404.1527, as a standard for consideration and evaluation of the treating physician opinion.  The court notes the magistrate judge appears to have relied on cases decided prior to the 1991 publication of revisiosn to 20 CFR 404.1527.  According to the federal court's holding, the ALJ failed to find the treating doctor's opinion consistent with the record as a whole and entitled to controlling weight.  Among the ALJ's errors were ingoring treatment notes concerning PTSDT and relying on one notation in the treating doctor's notes stating that claimant was "doing well."  

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