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Mangano v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

September 28, 2017

PAUL V. MANGANO, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Kelly K.E. Mahoney United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Paul Mangano seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the Commissioner) denying his application for disability insurance (DI) benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Mangano argues that the administrative law judge (ALJ), Linda Marshall, erred in assigning weight to the medical opinions and that her resulting determination of his mental residual functional capacity (RFC) is not supported by substantial evidence. Mangano also argues that the ALJ's RFC assessment does not include limitations reflecting her finding during step three of the disability determination that Mangano suffers moderate restrictions in concentration, persistence, or pace. I affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mangano filed an application for DI benefits on September 13, 2013, alleging disability beginning on May 1, 2013. AR 8. Prior to May 2013, Mangano had worked as a police detective, but he lost his job due to performance problems and his alcoholism. AR 13, 34, 498, 860. He alleged disability based on depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, alcoholism, diabetes, high blood pressure, head injury, and “back injuries with leg issues.” AR 10, 58.

         Mangano was referred for a consultative examination with Dr. Richard Frederick, a psychologist. AR 62, 630. After examining Mangano on January 11, 2014, Dr.

         Frederick issued an opinion evaluating Mangano's mental RFC, [2] concluding:

The claimant appears to be able to understand, remember, and carry out complex instructions.
The claimant appears able to concentrate, persist, and keep pace on complex tasks.
The claimant appears to have intact capacity to interact effectively in complex work situations.
The claimant appears to have intact capacity to adapt to changes in complex work situations.
The claimant is able to manage his own funds.

AR 630-33. Dr. Frederick found that Mangano suffered from chronic alcoholism and mild depressive disorder. AR 632.

         Shortly thereafter, on January 16, 2014, Dr. Keith Allen, a state agency psychological consultant, opined that Mangano suffered from no severe mental impairments, and Mangano's application for DI benefits was denied. AR 63, 65, 69. Mangano requested a hearing before an ALJ. AR 77. He submitted additional RFC opinions as evidence, two from psychologist Dr. Jerry Morris and one from therapist Shannon Hiser, both of whom practiced at Community Mental Health Consultants (CMHC), where Mangano received regular treatment beginning in January 2014 (he received treatment from CMHC sporadically prior to January 2014, including in November 2012 and September 2013). AR 421-26, 473-551, 639, 775-873, 968-1017, 1019-22. Dr. Morris conducted several psychological tests on July 11, 2013, and concluded:

This patient is functioning as a child developmental level with a severe mood disorder resulting in failure in most adult roles, insecurity, paranoia, and resentment and global negativity. He has low frustration tolerance, is brooding, and has low stress tolerance. Consequently, he will regress[] rapidly under slight pressure, and he will display distortive thinking, paranoiac and insecurity in the extreme and persecutory delusions and blaming others for these problems. He is overwhelmed by life[] [and] occupational demands . . . . At times he becomes seriously suicidal and he has significant suicide potential. . . . He also is medication and treatment noncompliant often inconsistent basis and has abused his pain medicine and [his] sedative hypnotic medication. He is likely to continue to do so in the future unless treated in highly structured settings.
This patient will not likely fulfill adult roles such as, and employee for, or function well in social settings and relationships without significant years of psychotherapy and growth. He will be indecisive, isolated, [and] hyper irritable . . . .

AR 425. Ms. Hiser's February 13, 2014 opinion regurgitated these findings, explicitly referring to Dr. Morris' July 11, 2013 evaluation. AR 639. Dr. Morris' second RFC opinion, completed on February 20, 2015, opined that Mangano suffered from extreme limitations in social functioning and maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; that he would suffer from repeated episodes of decompensation in work-like settings; that he would frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of an eight-hour day) be unable to maintain the attention and concentration necessary to perform simple work tasks; and that he would miss more than four days of work a month. AR 1020-21. He further stated that ...


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