United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas
REGENOLD HACKETT, JR.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT v.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER
THOMAS RAY United States Magistrate. Judge.
Hackett (“Hackett”) applied for social security
disability benefits with an alleged disability onset date of
April 1, 2007. (R. at 114). The administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) heard Hackett’s case and found him
not to be disabled. (R. at 11). The Appeals Council denied
review, rendering the ALJ’s decision the final decision
of the Commissioner. (R. at 1). Hackett has requested
reasons stated below, this Court affirms the ALJ’s
The Commissioner’s Decision
found that Hackett had the severe impairments of borderline
intellectual functioning, mood disorder, and antisocial
personality disorder. (R. at 13). After considering the
record, the ALJ found that Hackett had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at
all exertional levels, but with nonexertional limits
restricting Hackett to unskilled work where: interpersonal
contact is incidental to the work performed; the complexity
of tasks is learned and performed by rote, involves few
variables, and requires little independent judgment; and
supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. (R. at 19).
Hackett had no past relevant work. (R. at 26). With testimony
from a vocational expert, the ALJ found that Hackett could
work in jobs such as industrial cleaner or warehouse worker.
(R. at 27). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Hackett was
not disabled. (R. at 28).
argues that the evidence in the record does not support the
ALJ’s RFC determination. He contends that his mental
health issues preclude him from engaging in any substantial
Court reviews the record to determine whether substantial
evidence on the record as a whole supports the
Commissioner’s decision. Prosch v. Apfel, 201
F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court will affirm the
Commissioner’s decision if there is evidence that a
reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support the
Commissioner’s decision. Shannon v. Chater, 54
F.3d 484, 486 (8th Cir. 1995). Even if substantial evidence
would support an opposite decision, as long as the
ALJ’s decision is also supported by substantial
evidence, it must be affirmed. Slusser v. Astrue,
557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009).
early 2007, Hackett received diagnoses of depressive disorder
and oppositional defiant disorder. (R. at 465). For a number
of months thereafter, he received treatment for those
problems. (R. at 370-465). Despite his satisfaction with
treatment and seeing some improvement, he terminated services
on September 20, 2007. (R. at 371).
record shows no more treatment for psychological issues until
August 16, 2010, when he underwent a mental diagnostic
examination at the behest of the Social Security
Administration. (R. at 481). The examiner noted that Hackett
did not appear to give full effort during the examination,
which caused the examiner to conclude that Hackett’s
intelligence test results were not valid due to his lack of
effort. (R. at 482-83). Hackett claimed to have bipolar
disorder but took no medication for it and had not refilled
prescriptions for a mood disorder. (R. at 484). The examiner
assigned a global assessment of functioning score (“GAF
score”) of 43, but she also noted that malingering was
possible due to Hackett not giving full effort. (R. at
later reported that he felt better after starting medication.
(R. at 506). He also reported a decrease in anger control
problems and in mood swings after treatment and beginning
medication. (R. at 492). Impairments that can be controlled
with medication are not considered disabling. Turpin v.
Colvin, 750 F.3d 989, 993 (8th Cir. 2014). Notably,
Hackett denied any feelings of depression or thoughts of
self-harm when seeking medical attention on numerous
occasions. (R. at 540, 551, 567, 581, 595, 608, 618, 627,
arriving at his RFC determination, the ALJ discounted
Hackett’s credibility. The ALJ noted in the decision
that Hackett appeared to present his mental condition better
during treatment as opposed to his presentation when being
evaluated for disability. (R. at 24). The medical records
provide support for the ALJ’s observation. The ALJ also
observed that Hackett’s low earnings history and the
medical record indicate a lack of motivation to work. (R. at
25). Hackett’s earnings records are negligible. (R. at
239-40). Hackett testified that he could not get along with
an employer because he always felt that whatever an employer
offered to pay him was inadequate. (R. at 42-43). The Court
defers to the ALJ’s credibility determination when it
is supported by good reasons and substantial evidence.
Turpin, 750 F.3d at 993. The ALJ provided good
reasons for discounting Hackett’s credibility, and
substantial evidence supports that determination.
Hackett argues that the ALJ erred by not giving greater
weight to his history of low GAF scores. A history of low GAF
scores cannot be ignored and can indicate that a claimant
cannot engage in substantial gainful activity. Pate-Fires
v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 935, 944 (8th Cir. 2009). However,
Hackett’s GAF scores must be weighed against the
evidence of malingering, lack of motivation to work, and the
other objective medical evidence, including Hackett’s
failure to seek treatment or maintain a course of medication
that-by all accounts-helped to control his impairments. The
GAF scores alone do not overcome the substantial evidence
supporting the ALJ’s RFC determination, which accounted
for Hackett’s social difficulties by limiting him to
unskilled work where: interpersonal contact is incidental to
the work performed; the complexity of tasks is learned by
rote, involves few variables, and requires little independent
judgment; and supervision is simple, direct, and concrete.
(R. at 19).
there is no doubt that Hackett suffers from social and
psychological difficulties, the record supports the
ALJ’s conclusion that that these ...