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Fraser v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

April 23, 2019

BOB L. FRASER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following proposed Recommendation has been sent to Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection, and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         DISPOSITION

         Plaintiff Bob L. Fraser (“Fraser”) began this case by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In the complaint, he challenged the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”), a decision based upon the findings of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).

         Fraser maintains that the ALJ's findings are not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.[1] Fraser offers several reasons why, one of which has merit. Fraser maintains that the ALJ erred when she balked at the request to hear from Fraser's wife during the administrative hearing and thereafter failed to give her a reasonable opportunity to submit a written statement. The undersigned agrees.

         The record reflects that Fraser filed an application for supplemental security income payments on June 17, 2016. In the application, he alleged that he is disabled and unable to work because of a bipolar disorder, an obsessive compulsive disorder, gout, and back problems. He supported his application, in part, with the progress notes from Daysprings Behavioral Health Services (“Daysprings”) where he was seen for his mental impairments. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration.

         On July 27, 2017, a hearing was held before an ALJ. See Transcript at 81-117. Fraser testified during the hearing that he lives with his wife and has worked with her on occasion. When he was asked about his visits to Daysprings, he testified as follows:

Q. And can you tell me a little bit about - you've been going to Day Springs, looks like for two and a half, almost three years now?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Do you feel like they're the ones that know the most about your condition mentally?
A. They know a lot about it. I feel like my wife knows more about it than they do, probably, but they know a lot.
Q. Yeah, and you had told me that. It was real important that you wanted your wife to testify. I'm aware of that.
A. Yeah.
Q. But - but - you feel like she knows you more than anybody. That you do go to Day Springs, don't you?
A. They know me a lot, too. Because I tell them about everything that's going on with me. (INAUDIBLE).

See Transcript at 93-94. At the conclusion of Fraser's testimony, the following exchange occurred between the ALJ and ...


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