United States District Court, D. Colorado
HEATHER J. BOLTON, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DISABILITY
S. Krieger United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court as an appeal from the
Commissioner's Final Administrative Decision
(“Decision”) determining that the Plaintiff
Heather J. Bolton is not disabled within the meaning of
sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social
Security Act. Having considered all of the documents filed,
including the record (#12), the Court now
finds and concludes as follows:
Court has jurisdiction over an appeal from a final decision
of the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Ms. Bolton
sought disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income under the Social Security Act based on mental
and physical impairments that rendered her unable to work as
of March 12, 2013. The state agency denied her claim. She
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), who issued an unfavorable decision. Ms.
Bolton appealed to the Appeals Council, which denied her
request for review, making the ALJ's determination the
final decision of the Commissioner. Ms. Bolton timely
appealed to this Court.
Court offers a brief summary of the facts here and elaborates
as necessary in its analysis.
Bolton was born on May 20, 1970. She obtained her GED when
she was twenty-one years old and has worked as a teacher
aide, line cook, and a deli cutter-slicer. She contends that
mental and physical impairments prevent her from working.
Bolton suffers from multiple mental and physical impairments.
Her mental health impairments include bipolar disorder and
anxiety disorder. Her physical impairments include seizure
disorder, headaches or migraines, lumbar spine disorder, and
degenerative disc disease.
and Opinions by Treating Professionals
Martens, M.D. is a psychiatrist who began treating Ms. Bolton
on May 15, 2013 for bipolar disorder, panic disorder with
agora, opioid dependence (in remission), and bulimia nervosa.
On May 13, 2015, he filled out a mental residual functional
capacity questionnaire and a mental residual functional
capacity statement in support of her disability claim.
mental residual functional capacity questionnaire, Dr.
Martens stated that Ms. Bolton manifested the following signs
and symptoms: appetite disturbance with weight change,
decreased energy, suicidal thoughts, feelings of guilt or
worthlessness, impaired impulse control, persistent anxiety,
mood disturbance, difficulty thinking or concentrating,
recurrent recollections of past traumatic experiences,
paranoia, recurrent obsessions or compulsions, substance
dependence, emotional withdrawal or isolation, intense and
unstable interpersonal relationships and impulsive and
damaging behavior, hallucinations, emotional lability, flight
of ideas, manic syndrome, deeply ingrained maladaptive
patterns of behavior, vigilance and scanning, pressures of
speech, easy distractibility, autonomic hyperactivity, memory
impairment, sleep disturbance, oddities of though,
perception, speech, or behavior, decreased need for sleep,
loss of intellectual ability, and recurrent severe panic
Martens also opined in the mental residual functional
• Ms. Bolton's abilities to set realistic goals or
make plans independently of others, maintain socially
appropriate behavior, and adhere to basic standards of
neatness and cleanliness were unlimited or very
• her abilities to understand, remember, and carry out
instructions, whether short and simple or detailed, maintain
attention for two hours, maintain regular attendance and be
punctual, sustain an ordinary routine without special
supervision, work in coordination with or proximity to others
without being duly distracted, make simple work-related
decisions, ask simple questions or request assistance, accept
instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from
supervisors, be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate
precautions, deal with stress of semiskilled and skilled
work, interact appropriately with the general public, travel
in unfamiliar places, and use public transportation were
limited but satisfactory;
• and her abilities to remember work-like procedure,
complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions
from psychologically based symptoms, perform at a consistent
pace without an unreasonable number of length or rest
periods, get along with co-workers or peers without unduly
distracting them or exhibiting behavior extremes, respond
appropriately to changes in a routine work setting, and deal
with normal stress were severely limited.
further opined that she would be absent from work because of
her impairments about four days per month.
mental residual functional statement, Dr. Martens opined
• Ms. Bolton's abilities to interact appropriately
with the general public, ask simple questions or request
assistance, accept instructions and respond appropriately to
criticism from supervisors, get along with co-workers or
peers without distracting them or exhibiting behavioral
extremes, maintain socially appropriate behavior, and adhere
to basic ...