United States District Court, D. Oregon
JAMES M. DARR, JR., Plaintiff
Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
D. OLINSKY, MARK MANNING HARDER, WELLS, BARON & MANNING,
P.C. OF ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF
J. WILLIAMS UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, RENATA GOWIE ASSISTANT
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, ERIN F. HIGHLAND SPECIAL ASSISTANT
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
CLARKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
James M. Darr, Jr., ("Darr") seeks judicial review
of the final decision by the Social Security Commissioner
("Commissioner") denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act ("SSA"). This Court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Based on a careful
review of the record, the Commissioner's decision is
REVERSED and REMANDED for an immediate award of benefits.
filed for SSI on February 6, 2013, alleging disability as of
February 1, 2011. Tr. 19. His application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, and a hearing was held on
February 20, 2015, before an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"); Darr was represented by counsel and
testified, as did a vocational expert ("VE"). Tr.
37-68. Darr amended his disability onset date to February 6,
2013 at the administrative hearing. Tr. 19. On March 31,
2015, ALJ Rudolph Murgo issued a decision finding Darr not
disabled. Tr. 19-30. Darr requested timely review of the
ALJ's decision and, after the Appeals Council denied his
request for review, filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-3.
1971, Darr was 42 years old on the disability onset date. Tr.
39. He dropped out of high school after the ninth grade and
could not obtain his GED. Tr. 242. He previously worked at a
medical sterilizing company and performed construction work.
Tr. 185. He alleges disability due dyslexia, attention
deficit disorder, shoulder and neck arthritis, and a tumor in
his ear. Tr. 161.
underwent a mental status examination performed by Dr.
Phillip Barnard, Ph.D. on December 20, 2012. Tr. 245. Dr.
Barnard recorded Darr's medical and social history, and
noted that Darr had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") at the age of six,
had not finished high school, participated in special
education classes "throughout his schooling years,
" and could not get the help he needed to pass the GED
exam. Tr. 242. Dr. Barnard diagnosed Darr with ADHD, learning
disorder, cannabis dependence, "pain disorder associated
with psychological factors as well as a general medical
condition, " borderline intellectual functioning (onset
date childhood), and a 60 GAF score. Tr. 243-44. Dr. Barnard
assigned mild or moderate limitations on Darr's ability
to perform basic work activities. including moderate
difficulties communicating and performing effectively in a
work setting. maintaining appropriate behavior in a work
setting, setting realistic goals and planning independently,
learning new tasks, and completing a normal work day without
interruptions from psychologically based symptoms. Tr. 244.
Dr. Barnard conducted several intelligence tests and found
Darr could not complete "serial 7"s, " recall
two out of three words after a five minute delay, or spell
the word "world" forward or backward. Tr. 245. He
scored a 68 on the WAIS-IV IQ test, which Dr. Barnard
interpreted as evidence of a limited "fund of
knowledge." Tr. 245. "Halstead's Trail Making
Test" revealed a moderate and mild range of impairments.
November 27, 2012, Nurse Practitioner Rebecca Nelson
performed an initial assessment of Darr and noted that he had
little recent medical history because he did not have
insurance. Tr. 238. Darr presented with a mass growing on his
left earlobe that caused significant pain, as well as
shoulder pain located in his trapezius and neck muscles. Tr.
238. A subsequent x- ray revealed moderate degenerative
changes at the C6-7 vertebral levels. Tr. 239. X-rays of
Darr's left shoulder, however, revealed normal findings.
follow-up appointment with NP Nelson revealed significant
hearing loss of the middle frequencies. Tr. 255. NP Nelson
also noted neck and left shoulder pain with associated
radiculopathy. Tr. 255. On March 5, 2013, Darr complained of
numbness in his left arm, as well as pain whenever he moved
his neck. Tr. 261.
24, 2013. Arthur Ticknor, M.D., noted that the mass growing
on Darr"s left earlobe had been successfully excised and
an MRI of Darr's left shoulder "showed a labral tear
at 6 o'clock" with "juxtalabral cysts."
October 21, 2013, Darr underwent an anterior cervical
discectomy and fusion at the C6-7 vertebrae. Tr. 339. The
attending surgeon noted disc herniation at the C6-7 vertebral
level and C7 radiculopathy. Tr. 339. An x-ray of Darr's
spine immediately after the procedure noted the C6-7
vertebral levels were in normal alignment, and an additional
x-ray two months later revealed normal alignment at the C6-7
levels and unchanged degenerative disc disease at the C4-5
levels. Tr. 345. Darr stated that his symptoms improved after
the surgery, but he still felt some residual numbness in his
arms. Tr. 353.
final treatment note on August 1, 2014, showed he was
"slowly making progress after [cervical] spine
surgery" and used gabapentin for radicular ...