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Tullier v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 20, 2019

JESSE JOSEPH TULLIER
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          NOTICE AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Jesse Joseph Tullier (“Plaintiff”) brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying his application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”).[1] Plaintiff has filed a Memorandum in Support of Appeal[2] and the Commissioner has filed an Opposition Memorandum.[3]

         In the June 5, 2017 unfavorable decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff's alleged disability onset date is stated to be October 1, 2013.[4] Likewise, Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Appeal asserts that Plaintiff's “applied for disability insurance benefits on July 7, 2015, based on an alleged onset date of October 1, 2013.”[5] However, Plaintiff's Application Summary for Disability Insurance Benefits reflects the alleged disability onset date as July 6, 2015.[6] There is no indication in the administrative record that the alleged disability onset date was subsequently amended to October 1, 2013.[7] Accordingly, it appears that the ALJ's June 5, 2017 decision was based on the incorrect premise that Plaintiff alleged he was disabled twenty-one months prior to Plaintiff's actual alleged disability onset date.

         An error in the alleged onset date of disability “is not itself a basis for remand unless the claimant can show that it caused [claimant] prejudice.”[8] Although neither party's briefing addresses whether the error in alleged onset date was prejudicial, the Court is concerned that reliance on medical records evidencing Plaintiff's condition prior to the actual alleged onset date may have affected the weight assigned to the opinions of Plaintiff's treating physicians and the evaluation of Plaintiff's residual functional capacity.[9] Where utilization of a “grossly incorrect onset date” by an ALJ taints consideration of a Plaintiff's disability claim, remand may be appropriate.[10]

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that within twenty-one (21) days of this Notice and Order, each party shall separately file a Supplemental Memorandum, limited to five (5) pages each, addressing: (1) which date (October 1, 2013 or July 6, 2015) should be considered the alleged disability onset date; and (2) in the event the ALJ's June 5, 2017 Decision applied the wrong alleged onset date, whether the error was prejudicial. Alternatively, in the event the parties agree that prejudicial error occurred with respect to the ALJ's use of October 1, 2013 as the alleged disability onset date, the parties shall file a Joint Motion to Remand within twenty-one (21) days of this Notice and Order.

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Notes:

[1] The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), R. Doc. 7, and on November 27, 2018, an Order of Reference was issued referring this matter “for the conduct of all further proceedings and the entry of judgment….” R. Doc. 12.

[2] R. Doc. 11.

[3] R. Doc. 14.

[4] AR p. 15. References to documents filed in this case are designated by “(R. Doc. [docket entry number(s)] p. [page number(s)].” References to the record of administrative proceedings filed in this case are designated by “(AR [page number(s)].”

[5] R. Doc. 11, p. 1. A Disability Determination Explanation form also references October 1, 2013 as the alleged onset date. AR p. 67.

[6] AR p. 156.

[7] The Commissioner recognizes but does not provide any explanation regarding the discrepancy. R. Doc. 14, p. 2, n. 2 (“October 1, 2013 is the date referenced by the ALJ as the alleged onset date of the plaintiff. However, the transcript reflects that the ...


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