March 15, 2013
In Thompson v. Colvin, 2013 U.S.Dist. Lexis 36019, (E.D.Tenn. 2013), the District Court provided a nice summary of the law with regard to GAF scores:
ALJs and courts routinely rely upon GAF scores and the scores’ meanings in analyzing whether benefits should ultimately be awarded. See White v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 572 F.3d 272, 276 (6th Cir. 2009); see also American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Text Revision 34 (4th ed. 2000) (detailing score ranges and their meanings). Here, it is undisputed by the parties that a GAF score of 41 to 50 indicates serious symptoms. See Gayheart v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 12-3553, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 4865 at *3 (6th Cir. 2013) (recommended for publication). It is further undisputed that the ALJ stated that a GAF score “in the 50’s” indicates “no more than moderate mental limitations.” (Tr. 15). As Dr. Moffet’s scores of only 50 are the only scores in the record, the ALJ’s statement that his scores indicate no more than moderate limitations is clearly incorrect.
. . . . While a GAF score is not controlling as to whether benefits should be awarded, the scores are helpful in analyzing a person’s symptoms and possible difficulty in social, occupational or school functioning at the time a practitioner performed the examination. Here, as noted, the only scores in the record are those from Dr. Moffet. The ALJ assigned an incorrect meaning to those scores. This error is significant [*6] because part of the reasons why the ALJ apparently decided to give little weight to Dr. Moffet’s and to instead give more weight to the state agency psychologists’ reports was perceived inconsistencies in Dr. Moffet’s own records and that his opinions conflicted with other evidence in the record, including the plaintiff’s activities of daily living. However, the ALJ did not give sufficient details as to any of these. See Gayheart, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 4865 at *36 (discussing the proper analysis and “good reasons” in determining controlling weight to be given to medical opinions). Therefore, good reasons should have been given as to why Dr. Moffet’s opinions were given little weight. See id. When the scant reasons for discounting the opinions were based on a misconception, this Court cannot find this harmless.
Thus, after de novo and careful consideration of the record as a whole, including the Administrative Transcript, and after careful consideration of the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, for the reasons set out in that Report and Recommendation which are incorporated by reference herein, and for the reasons stated above, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendant’s [*7] objections are OVERRULED, [Doc. 19], that this Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED and APPROVED, [Doc. 16], that the plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, [Doc. 12], is GRANTED IN PART, and that defendant’s motion for summary judgment, [Doc. 14], is DENIED. It is further ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the Commissioner for remanded for a mental evaluation by an examining source, including a GAF assessment.