Thomas v. Berryhill (P)

In this claim for supplemental social security, the administrative law judge failed to sufficiently explain the reasoning underlying her evaluation of the claimant’s residual functional capacity. The ALJ also failed to identify and resolve an apparent conflict between the testimony of a vocational expert and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

First, the ALJ drew no explicit conclusions about how the claimant’s mental limitations affect her ability to perform job-related tasks for a full workday — a benchmark established by the Administration’s own regulations. Second, the ALJ didn’t sufficiently explain how she weighed significant evidence related to Thomas’s mental-health treatment. Third, the ALJ expressed the claimant’s residual functional capacity first and only then concluded that the her limitations were consistent with it. Fourth, the ALJ stated that the claimant could not perform work “requiring a production rate or demand pace” but she didn’t give this court enough information to understand what those terms mean.

In addition, there is an apparent conflict between a limitation to “short, simple instructions” (as found in the claimant’s residual functional capacity) and a need to carry out “detailed but uninvolved . . . instructions” (as found in jobs requiring Level 2 reasoning).

Vacated and remanded. Judged King concurred in the judgment.

Thomas v. Berryhill (P), No. 17-2215, Feb. 22, 2019. 4th Cir. (Floyd) from WDNC at Charlotte (Cogburn).

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published


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