Gerstner v. Berryhill, No. 16-4007 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Gerstner, age 27, applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income was denied. An administrative law judge found that she was severely impaired by anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, depression, and fibromyalgia but that these impairments were not disabling, and denied benefits. The Seventh Circuit vacated the denial as not supported by substantial evidence. The ALJ fixated on select portions of the treating psychiatrist’s treatment notes, inadequately analyzed his opinions, and overlooked the extent to which those opinions were consistent with the diagnoses and opinions of other medical sources who treated Gerstner. ALJs must consider psychologists’ and nurse practitioners’ opinions on the severity of a patient’s impairments. In discrediting Gerstner’s testimony, the ALJ overstated findings from three diagnostic tests and misunderstood the nature of her fibromyalgia pain. Fibromyalgia pain cannot be measured with objective tests aside from a trigger-point assessment.