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Spillers v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Iowa, Central Division

June 2, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

For Scott V Spillers, Plaintiff: Thomas A Krause, LEAD ATTORNEY, SCHOTT MAUSS & ASSOCIATES, DES MOINES, IA.

For Commissioner of Social Security, Commissioner Carolyn W Colvin, Defendant: William C Purdy, U S Attorney's Office, Des Moines, IA.


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Plaintiff, Scott V. Spillers, filed a Complaint in this Court on September 10, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's decision to deny his claim for Social Security benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § § 401 et seq. This Court may review a final decision bye the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

Plaintiff filed an application for benefits December 10, 2010. Tr. at 124-25. Plaintiff, whose date of birth is May 28, 1964, (Tr. at 124) was 48 years old at the time of the hearing on June 5, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge Tom Morris (ALJ). Tr. at 26-61. The ALJ issued a Notice Of Decision -- Unfavorable on July 3, 2012. Tr. at 8-21. On July 16, 2013, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision

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making it the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. at 1-3. Thereafter, Plaintiff commenced this action.

At the first step of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity after May 22, 2010, the alleged onset of disability date. At the second step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: " rule out learning disabilities, psychotic disorder, NOS perhaps due to major depression." The ALJ found that none of these impairments, alone or in combination, were severe enough to qualify for benefits at the third step of the sequential evaluation. Tr. at 13. At the fourth step, the ALJ found:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: he can perform simple, routine and repetitive work. He cannot pay close attention to detail. He requires a low stress job described as occasional decision making and changes in the work setting. He requires verbal instructions. He cannot perform fast paced work defined as constant activities performed sequentially in a rapid succession. He cannot be required to work on a computer to accomplish job duties. He cannot perform production rate pace work such as an assembly line work but he can perform goal oriented work.

Tr. at 15. The ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform his past relevant work. Tr. at 19. At the fifth step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is able to do a significant number of jobs, examples of which include industrial cleaner, marker, collator operator, and insert machine operator. Tr. at 20. The ALJ found that Plaintiff is not disabled nor entitled to the benefits for which he applied. Tr. at 21.


Plaintiff was admitted to Iowa Lutheran Hospital on May 27, 2010, and discharged June 2, 2010. Tr. at 227-41. Plaintiff was admitted with frantic anxiety over a failed CDL (commercial driver's license) test. During the hospital stay, Plaintiff was under the care of his psychiatrist of more than twelve years, Mark A. Preston, M.D. Dr. Preston noted Plaintiff's history of recurrent paranoid psychosis. Plaintiff, who had been a truck driver, had been involved in a fatal accident during blizzard conditions. Although Plaintiff said that a car crossed the center line into his truck, a police report indicated that Plaintiff's truck tire had been over the center line for some distance. Plaintiff was required to retake his CDL test, but failed the examination. During an office visit, Dr. Preston became concerned that Plaintiff was about to experience a psychotic episode, and admitted him to the hospital. The hospital admission history states that Plaintiff had always been a slower learner and that his mother had always assisted him with test taking. Tr. at 227. On Discharge, Plaintiff was not released to return to work. Plaintiff's medications were Lexapro and Geodon [1] Tr. at 228. Dr. Preston saw Plaintiff in the doctor's office throughout 2010, 2011, and 2012 on a every-other-month, monthly or twice-monthly basis. Tr. at 252-62, 291, & 324-28. During the period immediately after the hospital stay, the doctor was focused on Plaintiff's need to retake his driving test. On July 14, 2010, however, the doctor wrote: " I am not sure he can hold any job right now but I'm not giving up on him." Tr. at 256. On August 4, 2010, the doctor noted that

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Plaintiff was doing slightly better, that he was able to smile spontaneously and was not as hopeless as before. Tr. at 255. On August 20, 2010, Dr. Preston noted that Plaintiff was still waiting to hear about his appeal of his drivers license denial. Tr. at 254.

On June 18, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by DeAnn L. Nerem, Psy.D., at the request of Dr. Preston. Tr. at 244-47. The purpose of the examination was " to determine if he has a learning disability that would hinder his ability to successfully pass the written portion of his driver's license test." Plaintiff was required to pass the tests for both his personal and professional driver's licenses. He had twice failed the personal test and was concerned about his CDL. Tr. at 244. On test of intellectual functioning, Plaintiff's verbal comprehension and perceptual organization scores were both 76, placing him in the borderline range. Dr. Nerem wrote:

Review of the verbal subtests indicated a low average range performance for vocabulary, while his abstract verbal reasoning and general fund of information fell in the borderline range. On the performance tests, his visual-organizational abilities fell in the average range, while his abstract nonverbal reasoning fell in the borderline range. His ability to distinguish essential from nonessential details in pictures fell in the cognitively disabled range.

Tr. at 245. The psychologist recommended that Plaintiff's ability to drive be judged on a road test rather than a written test due to learning disability and memory difficulties. Dr. Nerem recommended that the written portion of ...

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