Shelley C. v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration, No. 21-2042 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff appealed the district court’s order affirming the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) denial of her application for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”). In her application, she alleged major depressive disorder (“MDD”), anxiety disorder, and attention deficit disorder (“ADHD”). Following a formal hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) determined that Plaintiff suffered from severe depression with suicidal ideations, anxiety features and ADHD, but he nonetheless denied her claim based on his finding that she could perform other simple, routine jobs and was, therefore, not disabled. Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by (1) according to only little weight to the opinion of her long-time treating psychiatrist (“Dr. B”) and (2) disregarding her subjective complaints based on their alleged inconsistency with the objective medical evidence in the record.
The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant disability benefits. The court agreed with Plaintiff that the ALJ failed to sufficiently consider the requisite factors and record evidence by extending little weight to Dr. B’s opinion. The ALJ also erred by improperly disregarding Plaintiff’s subjective statements. Finally, the court found that the ALJ’s analysis did not account for the unique nature of the relevant mental health impairments, specifically chronic depression. The court explained that because substantial evidence in the record clearly establishes Plaintiff’s disability, remanding for a rehearing would only “delay justice.”