United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER'S
S. KRIEGER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on the Plaintiff's
Complaint (# 1), the Plaintiff's Opening
Brief (# 14), the Defendant's Response
(# 15), and the Plaintiff's Reply
(# 18). For the following reasons, the
Commissioner's decision is reversed and the matter is
remanded for further proceedings.
Court has jurisdiction over an appeal from a final decision
of the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Perfater seeks judicial review of a final decision by the
Commissioner denying his claim for supplemental security
income (SSI) under the Social Security Act. In January 2015,
Mr. Perfater filed for SSI, claiming he became disabled in
January 2012. Tr. at 192-200. His application was denied at
all administrative levels and he now appeals to this Court.
Court summarizes only the medical evidence relevant to its
decision. Here, the dispositive issue concerns the weight
given to the medical opinions as to Mr. Perfater's
functional capacity. At the time of his alleged onset of
disability, Mr. Perfater was 49 years old. Tr. at 192. He was
previously employed as an auto mechanic. Tr. at 226.
April 2015, Physician's Assistant Michael Beer, a
treating physician, completed a MED-9 form detailing Mr.
Perfater's vocational limitations. The Court cannot find
this form in the record, but there are contemporaneous
treatment notes that summarize its contents:
MED-9 signed today for 12-month disability; given the
limitations of pt's age, chronic pain, low education, no
skilled job training, and cognitive and memory deficits, I do
not believe he will ever be able to return to full-time
employment as an auto mechanic in a high-pressure setting.
With training and a structure[d] work environment, I believe
he might safely work, but it would require a very special job
setting with an employer committed to working around his
limitations. Cannot safely work on ladders or at height above
Tr. at 409.
December 2016, Dr. John Mars, a consulting examiner,
conducted an examination of Mr. Perfater and completed a
medical source statement. Tr. at 354-59, 360-62. His clinical
impression was that Mr. Perfater suffered from low back pain,
hypertension, right shoulder pain, a history of double
vision, diabetes, and depression and anxiety. Tr. at 362. Dr.
Mars opined that, though Mr. Perfater has these problems, his
physical exam was “mostly normal”. Tr. at 362.
Based on his observations, Dr. Mars assessed the following
with regard to Mr. Perfater's functional limitations: he
can continuously lift and carry up to 50 pounds and
frequently lift and carry up to 100 pounds; he can sit for
two hours at one time without interruption and for eight
hours in a workday; he can stand or walk four hours at a time
and four hours each in a workday. Tr. at 354-55. Elaborating
on his sitting/standing/walking assessment, Dr. Mars stated
that nothing in the physical exam or the medical records
would limit such activities. Tr. at 355.
January 2017, PA Beer partially completed a diabetes residual
functional capacity questionnaire. Tr. at 363-66. He
identified Mr. Perfater's symptoms: fatigue, extremity
pain and numbness, difficulty walking, episodic vision
blurriness, difficulty thinking and concentrating,
psychological problems, headaches, cataracts, and
astigmatism. Tr. at 363. He opined that Mr. Perfater is
capable of low-stress jobs because he is physically and
cognitively limited. Tr. at 364. For whatever reason, PA Beer
did not complete any portion of the questionnaire that would
specifically detail Mr. ...