United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
STEPHEN A. FRANKS, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
NEWBERN MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
H. SHARP, CHIEF JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Stephen A. Franks'
(“Franks”) Motion for Judgment on the
Administrative Record (“Motion”) (Doc. No. 16),
filed with a Memorandum in Support (Doc. No. 17). Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
filed a Response in Opposition to Franks' Motion (Docket
No. 19). This case was referred to Magistrate Judge Newbern,
but the Court hereby withdraws that referral. In addition,
upon consideration of the parties' filings and the
transcript of the administrative record (Doc. No. 11),
for the reasons given below, the Court will
DENY Franks' Motion.
November 8, 2010 Franks filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act, alleging a
disability onset of July 15, 2010. (A.R. 40.) Franks'
claim was denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of
state agency review. Franks subsequently requested de
novo review of his case by an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). The ALJ heard the case on June 6, 2012,
when Franks appeared, was represented by an attorney, and
gave testimony. (Id. at 54.) Testimony was also
received from an impartial vocational expert. At the
conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under
advisement until June 22, 2012, when the ALJ issued a written
decision finding Franks not disabled. (Id. at 40.)
That decision contains the following enumerated findings:
1. Franks meets the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through December 31, 2014.
2. Franks has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1571 et
seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. Franks has the following severe impairments: mood disorder
with psychosis that is in remission (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c)
4. Franks does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. Franks has no physical limitations to the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work as
defined by 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). He is in a
regular day treatment program at the mental health center and
is limited to shift work. He is limited to unskilled work,
involving no detailed or complex work instructions. He can
tolerate no more than occasional interaction with
supervisors, coworkers, or the general public.
6. Franks can perform past relevant work as a material
handler, DOT #929.687-030. This work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by his RFC,
as the vocation expert testified (20 C.F.R. 404-1565 and
7. Franks has not been under a disability within the meaning
of the Social Security Act from July 15, 2010 through the
date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).
(Id. at 42-49.)
December 24, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Franks'
request for review of the ALJ's decision, thereby
rendering that decision the final decision of the SSA.
(Id. at 4.) This civil action was thereafter timely
filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. §
Review of Record
following summary of Franks' medical record is taken from
the ALJ's decision. (A.R. 45-48.)
[Franks] was involved in a court-ordered behavioral health
treatment program from July 7 to December 16, 1998; however
he failed to follow-up with treatment after August 20, 1998.
A psychiatric evaluation performed on May 9, 2000, indicated
that he had been hospitalized four times for suicidal
ideation and difficulty with anger control. His GAF at that
time was estimated at 52, consistent with moderate symptoms .
. . He was hospitalized from August 9 to August 17, 2001.
Inappropriate behavior has resulted in the hospital
admission, with discharge diagnoses noted for bipolar
disorder mixed with psychotic features, and pedophilia. . . .
At his discharge his GAF was 65, indicating some mild
symptoms but generally functioning pretty well . . . A
psychiatric update on August 30, 2011, indicated a history of
bipolar disorder, rule out schizoaffective disorder and PTSD
(posttraumatic stress disorder). His GAF at that time was 40,
consistent with serious symptoms and some impairment in
reality testing or communicating. He was in a treatment
program and said he was compliant with his medication
regimen. He began a three-day program on December 18, 2011,
to stabilize him and adjust his medications.
At the time of his psychiatric hospital admission on November
15, 2003, [Franks] was exhibiting psychotic behavior. He was
agitated and delusional, and appeared to attend to internal
stimuli, talking and laughing inappropriately. He was not
compliant with medication. He had been put on involuntary
commitment. Although he attended school through the
12th grade, he was in special education classes.
He had loose associations, but was able to focus for short
periods. He insisted he was the President of the United
States, and gave his name as the current President, although
he was able to name the first President. His memory appeared
good, but his insight and judgment were poor. It was
questionable whether he could live independently. The
diagnosis included psychosis NOS, rule out opiod abuse; and
chronic mental illness with history of child molestation. His
GAF was unclear but estimated at 18, indicating some danger
to himself or others . . . He was discharged on November 21,
2003. . .
[Franks] has gotten into some trouble with his landlord when
he was hospitalized on March 17, 2004, having chopped down
all the trees in his back yard. His recent and remote memory
was impaired. His thought processes were evasive and very
guarded, and thought content showed extreme paranoia and
delusions. His insight, judgment and impulse control were
poor. He was placed on Risperdal and slowly responded. At the
time of discharge he had no hallucinations or delusions, his
sleep and appetite were improved, and his concentration was
improved. The discharge diagnoses included schizophrenia,
chronic paranoia type; noncompliance with medication, and
chronic mental illness. Admission GAF was 20, consistent with
some danger to himself or others. The GAF at discharge was
60, indicating moderate symptoms. . . He was discharged on
March 29, 2004. He was in the care of the mental health
center from 2004 to June 2006 when he moved out of that area.
He remained stable but was marginally compliant with
There is no evidence that [Franks] sought or received medical
treatment from any physician, hospital or mental health
center from June 2006 until November 2009, when he stated
that he began treatment at the mental health center. . . When
he was examined by George Stanford, MD, the psychiatrist, his
chief concern was being unable to find a job . . . His mood
was euthymic and his affect constricted. He had very literal
interaction on the affective level as well as the cognitive
level. The diagnoses included mood disorder NOS, history of
psychosis NOS, and the GAF was estimated at 65, consisted
withy mild symptoms and/or limitations . . . He was nearly
out of medication and he was given renewals of his
prescriptions; he was advised to got to vocational
rehabilitation for help in finding work. He underwent
assessment at the vocational rehabilitation service on March
4 to March 30, 2004; his score on aptitude testing were
negatively affected by his slow speed. Still, he was
considered suitable for work as a groundskeeper, law service
worker, landscape laborer, construction worker, sanitation
worker, janitor/cleaner, material handler and machine
operator. At the mental health center on April 26, 2010, he
repotted short episodes of hypomanic or manic symptoms with
grandiosity and elevated mood. His mood was euthymic and
affect matter-of-fact; his speech was clear. His though
demonstrated convoluted process but there was no flight of
idea or similar patterns. Insight and social judgment were
fair. The GAF was estimated at 52, consistent with ...