United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
W. PAYSON United States Magistrate Judge.
Rachel Bantle (“Bantle”) brings this action
pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income Benefits (“SSI”).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have
consented to the disposition of this case by a United States
magistrate judge. (Docket # 14).
before the Court are the parties' motions for judgment on
the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. (Docket ## 13, 15). For the reasons set
forth below, I hereby vacate the decision of the Commissioner
and remand this claim for further administrative proceedings
consistent with this decision.
protectively filed for SSI on July 13, 2012, alleging
disability beginning on April 26, 2012, due to pelvic pain
syndrome, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, myocardosis,
anxiety, panic attacks, depression, arthritis, cystic ovarian
disease, and asthma. (Tr. 29, 127, 146). On October 23,
2012, the Social Security Administration denied Bantle's
claims for benefits, finding that she was not
disabled. (Tr. 55-69). Bantle requested and was
granted a hearing before Administrative Law Judge David J.
Begley (the “ALJ”). (Tr. 76-78). The ALJ
conducted a hearing on February 19, 2014. (Tr. 26-54). In a
decision dated June 2, 2014, the ALJ found that Bantle was
not disabled and was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 11-21).
22, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Bantle's request for
review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-6). In the denial,
the Appeals Council considered additional evidence submitted
by Bantle that primarily predated the ALJ's determination
but was not submitted until after the ALJ had rendered his
decision. (Tr. 1-2, 5, 886-910, 911-81). The additional
evidence consisted of records from Wayne Behavioral Health
Network, including treatment notes authored by Bantle's
licensed clinical social worker, Patricia Nelson-Struck. (Tr.
911-81). The additional evidence also included medical
records from Strong Memorial Hospital. (Tr. 886-910). The
Appeals Council concluded that this additional evidence did
not “provide a basis for changing the [ALJ's]
decision.” (Tr. 2).
commenced this action on August 19, 2015, seeking review of
the Commissioner's decision. (Docket # 1).
Medical Opinions of Record
Jennifer Campbell, MD
October 18, 2010, Jennifer Campbell (“Campbell”),
MD, Bantle's internist, completed an employability
assessment relating to Bantle, whom she had been treating for
eighteen months. (Tr. 830-31). She diagnosed Bantle with
pelvic pain, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, interstitial
cystitis, and mild asthma. (Id.). Campbell opined
that Bantle had no evidence of mental limitations, but was
moderately limited in her ability to perform lifting,
carrying, pushing, pulling, and bending. (Id.).
completed another employability assessment on December 20,
2010. (Tr. 832-33). She indicated that Bantle suffered from
pelvic pain, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, asthma, and
supraventricular tachycardia. (Id.). Campbell
assessed no physical limitations. (Id.). According
to Campbell, Bantle had been receiving mental health
treatment at Wayne County Mental Health for the previous
three to six months. (Id.). She opined that Bantle
was very limited in her ability to maintain attention and
concentration, interact appropriately with others, maintain
socially appropriate behavior without exhibiting behavior
extremes, and function in a work setting at a consistent
pace. (Id.). She also opined that Bantle was
moderately limited in her ability to understand, remember and
carry out instructions, and make simple decisions.
(Id.). Campbell opined that Bantle's limitations
were expected to last approximately four to six months.
January 17, 2011, Campbell completed another employability
assessment form. (Tr. 834-35). She opined that Campbell was
very limited in her ability to lift and carry objects and
moderately limited in her ability to stand, push, pull, bend,
see, hear, speak, use her hands, and climb. (Id.).
With respect to Bantle's mental limitations, Campbell
assessed that she was moderately limited in her ability to
maintain attention and concentration and function in a work
setting at a consistent pace. (Id.). She also opined
that Bantle was unable to work and referred her for mental
health treatment. (Id.).
completed another employability assessment form on June 29,
2011. (Tr. 836-37). She opined that Campbell was moderately
limited in her ability to stand, sit, lift, carry, push,
pull, bend, and climb. (Id.). With respect to
Bantle's mental limitations, Campbell assessed that she
was moderately limited in her ability to interact
appropriately with others, maintain socially appropriate
behavior without exhibiting behavior extremes, and function
in a work setting at a consistent pace. (Id.). She
also opined that Bantle was unable to engage in prolonged
standing, pushing, pulling, and climbing, and was unable to
lift objects greater than ten pounds. (Id.).
February 13, 2012, Campbell again completed an employability
assessment form. (Tr. 838-39). She diagnosed Bantle with
endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, interstitial
cystitis, chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis,
supraventricular tachycardia, palpations, extra valve in
heart, panic and anxiety disorder, and
“sometimes” depression. (Id.). She
assessed no physical limitations and opined that Bantle was
moderately limited in her ability to interact appropriately
with others. (Id.).
Christine Ransom, PhD
September 21, 2012, state examiner Christine Ransom
(“Ransom”), PhD, conducted a consultative
psychiatric evaluation of Bantle. (Tr. 508-12). Bantle
reported that she was twenty-four years old and had been
driven to the examination by her mother. (Id.). She
reported that she lived with her four-year-old child.
(Id.). Bantle reported that she had completed high
school in a regular educational setting. (Id.). She
reported that she had been employed as an administrative
assistant for approximately one year and had stopped working
in 2010 due to mental health difficulties. (Id.).
to Bantle, she was currently receiving mental health
treatment, including medication and counseling, at Wayne
County Mental Health for PTSD, panic disorder, and
depression. (Id.). Bantle reportedly experienced and
observed sexual molestation by her cousins when she was
growing up and in high school began having panic attacks,
characterized by palpitations, sweating, breathing
difficulties, trembling, and fear. (Id.). Bantle
reported that she currently suffered from nightmares,
flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and anger. (Id.).
She also had sleep difficulties. (Id.). Bantle
indicated that she was experiencing decreased appetite,
frequent crying spells, irritability, low energy,
preoccupation with problems, and difficulty concentrating.
reported that she socialized with a few friends and with her
mother. (Id.). Bantle spent most of her day resting
and caring for her son, although at times she had to crawl to
do so. (Id.). Bantle denied generalized anxiety,
manic symptomatology, thought disorder, cognitive symptoms,
and deficits. (Id.).
reported that pain made it difficult for her to attend to
personal hygiene and household chores, including cooking,
laundry, and shopping. (Id.). According to Bantle,
her mother sometimes assisted her with these tasks and with
managing her money because she had difficulty focusing.
(Id.). Bantle reported that she had a driver's
license, but did not have a car. (Id.). She was able
to care for her child. (Id.).
examination, Ransom noted that Bantle appeared casually
dressed, although unkempt and poorly groomed. (Id.).
She noted that Bantle's motor behavior was lethargic and
her eye contact was downcast. (Id.). Ransom opined
that Bantle had slow, halting speech with a clear voice that
was moderately to markedly dysphoric, irritable, labile,
intense, and anxious, and adequate language, coherent and
goal-directed thought processes, moderately to markedly
dysphoric, irritable, labile, intense, and anxious affect and
correlating mood, clear sensorium, full orientation, good
insight, good judgment, and average intellectual functioning.
(Id.). Ransom noted that Bantle's attention and
concentration appeared to be mildly impaired due to emotional
disturbance and anxiety. (Id.). According to Ransom,
Bantle could count backwards from ten and complete two out of
three simple calculations, but had difficulty completing the
serial threes. (Id.). Bantle's immediate memory
skills appeared mildly impaired due to emotional disturbance
and anxiety. (Id.). According to Ransom, Bantle
could recall one out of three objects immediately, one out of
three objects after delay, and could complete three digits
forward and two digits backward. (Id.).
to Ransom, Bantle could follow and understand simple
directions and instructions, perform simple tasks
independently, maintain attention and concentration for
simple tasks, maintain a simple regular schedule and learn
simple new tasks, but would have moderate to marked
difficulty performing complex tasks, relating adequately with
others, and appropriately dealing with stress.
(Id.). According to Ransom, her difficulties stemmed
from PTSD, currently moderate to marked, major depressive
order, currently moderate to marked, and panic disorder with
agoraphobia, currently moderate to marked. (Id.).
Ransom opined that the results of the evaluation were
consistent with Bantle's allegations. (Id.).
Harbinder Toor, MD
September 21, 2012, state examiner Harbinder Toor
(“Toor”), MD, conducted a consultative internal
medicine examination. (Tr. 513-18). Bantle reported suffering
from endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, bleeding cyst,
chronic pelvic and abdominal syndrome, chronic lower back
pain, possible rheumatoid arthritis, supraventricular
tachycardia, depression, panic attacks, anxiety attacks,
asthma, and a history of seizures. (Id.).
reported that she cooked twice a week, cleaned the house
twice a week, and was able to do laundry, shop, and care for
her child. (Id.). She showered and dressed daily
with assistance. (Id.). She ...