Surprise v. Saul, No. 19-3233 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Surprise injured a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand in 2009, resulting in two surgeries and several months of physical therapy. He initially experienced severe pain. Weeks later Surprise’s therapist noted that his pain had decreased significantly and that therapy was no longer necessary as he could open soda cans and use a coffee cup with his right hand. Surprise suffered a concussion, resulting in post-concussion syndrome, in a 2000 snowmobile accident. In 2009, a psychologist noted Surprise could not read well, could follow only a simple, three-step command, and had poor short-term memory and a limited knowledge base. Surprise also experiences depression and anxiety, although his doctors noted that medications kept these conditions under control.
Surprise’s claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental social security income was denied following a remand. Surprise argued that the ALJ failed to adequately account for a portion of the medical expert’s opinion in the hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert and that her decision violated the law of the case doctrine by failing to adopt the fine manipulation limitation the initial ALJ found in the course of his RFC assessment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Surprise did not identify any obvious conflict between the hypothetical question and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles nor did the district court make any factual findings that became the law of the case.