Cullinan v. Berryhill, No. 17-1287 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Cullinan unsuccessfully sought Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income based on several impairments, most of which arose after she suffered a stroke: anxiety, depression, peripheral blindness in one eye, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea. An administrative law judge determined that although Cullinan has several impairments, she is not disabled. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The ALJ’s decision to discredit Cullinan’s testimony and that of her treating psychologist was unsupported by the record because the ALJ’s examples of Cullinan’s daily activities and social interactions did “not remotely describe a ‘very active’ lifestyle.” The ALJ did not adequately explain the conclusion that the doctor’s notes were inconsistent with his opinion and did not consider Cullinan’s daily extended naps and frequent debilitating headaches in determining her residual functional capacity. No evidence contradicted Cullinan’s testimony about those limitations. The vocational expert said that needing to take a two-hour nap every day would rule out all work. The ALJ has the burden to develop the record and assess whether symptoms are disabling.