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Kanengieter v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

March 19, 2015

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.


KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Michelle D. Kanengieter, seeks review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for disability insurance benefits.[1] The Commissioner opposes the motion and requests that the court affirm the decision. For the following reasons, the court reverses and remands.


Kanengieter applied for disability insurance benefits on December 6, 2011, alleging disability since February 23, 2011, due to bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. AR 127, 153, 157.[2] The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Kanengieter's application. AR 75-77. After the initial denial, Kanengieter retained Heather Mueller of Western Professional Associates, Inc., d/b/a Disability Professionals, as a non-attorney representative. AR 79-80. On reconsideration, SSA again denied Kanengieter's claim. AR 81-82. Kanengieter then requested an administrative hearing and appeared with Mueller before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on January 22, 2013. AR 28-60 (transcript of hearing). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Kanengieter did not have a severe impairment. AR 13-24. Kanengieter timely requested review by the Appeals Council, which request was denied on November 7, 2013.[3] AR 1-6. On December 17, 2013, Kanengieter commenced this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of her disability insurance benefits claim. Docket 1. After briefing was complete, the court gave the Commissioner permission to file a supplemental administrative record. Docket 18 (motion); Docket 19 (order); Docket 21 (supplemental record received).[4]


Kanengieter was born on January 28, 1983. AR 153. She was 29 years old at the time of her administrative hearing. Kanengieter graduated from Paynesville Senior High School, where she indicated she attended special education classes. AR 158. Following high school, Kanengieter enrolled in and completed a one-year vocational training program in the culinary arts. AR 33, 158.

Kanengieter reported three jobs as a cook, one job as a dietary cook, and a job as a shipping clerk on her application for disability insurance benefits. AR 158. In a letter dated February 12, 2013, she referred to working at Walmart for six months, along with working briefly at Granite City, Perkins, and another restaurant, the name of which she could not remember. AR 196-97. She stated that she was fired from a number of jobs because of her mental impairment, including Deno's Southside Cafe for telling the wife she was a bitch, Walmart due to her behavior, a restaurant due to her interactions with co-workers, Perkins due to interactions with her supervisor and timeliness, and Granite City because she could not stay focused. AR 171 and 196-7. She quit her job as a shipping clerk when she got married and moved to South Dakota. AR 36-37. And she quit her most recent job as a dietary cook at a nursing home because her son was diagnosed with a medical condition and she was pregnant with her second child. AR 38-39. She told the ALJ that she had applied to work at Perkins Restaurant in Sioux Falls but never called the manager back to schedule an interview because she had two small children at home and "it was so overwhelming trying to keep up with my household work, being a mother, taking, giving them all my attention that I could not give 100 percent at my job if they did hire me." AR 38.

Kanengieter described her symptoms:

I have my up days, where I can be superwoman by being a great mother, which I'm always a great mother, even with my down days. And I can get all my housework done, and then some, you know, by cooking a great meal, baking cookies, having more fun with my children. And when I have my down days, I'm just down in the dumps. I have to force myself to get stuff done around the house, even if it's like half-ass, you know. And I'm just really sad.... [W]hen I am having a down day, I get extremely depressed, and I can cry very easily and get very overwhelmed when I'm having a down day.

AR 40-41. Kanengieter told the ALJ that she had down days about three to four times a month and they usually lasted a couple days. AR 41. She recalled problems multitasking and getting work completed on down days. AR 40. Kanengieter also reported difficulty sleeping, concentrating on daily routines, and remembering things. AR 43. According to Kanengieter, her "brain is being pulled in 100 miles this way, 100 miles that way, up and down[.]" AR 42. Kanengieter also has suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide once years ago. AR 44. In a function report dated January 25, 2012, Kanengieter reported panic attacks and a fear of going out in public. AR 166.

Kanengieter stated that, despite her limitations, she read books to her children and watched television. AR 45. As to her activities of daily living Kanengieter stated, "I go to playgroup with my kids at different community centers. And then I take my kids to the mall shopping, and we're just walking around. And recently [I] made a new friend, and she invited me to go shopping[.]" AR 46. In her function report, Kanengieter stated that she cares for her children on a daily basis, prepares meals daily, is responsible for cleaning and laundry, shops once a week for two and a half hours, enjoys watching television, working out, and playing with her kids, and frequently goes to church and the grocery store. AR 165-70.

Kanengieter has a history of bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by Dr. Stephen Hahn in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on or around 2006.[5] See AR 52, 231. After moving to South Dakota, Kanengieter was first treated at Avera University Psychiatry Associates (AUPA) on April 15, 2010. Kanengieter was initially seen for medication management. AR 206. During that session, Kanengieter reported suicidal thoughts and stress related to financial difficulties. She also reported that she was sleeping "okay." Id. Grace LaFollette, a certified nurse practitioner, noted that Kanengieter was pleasant and cooperative, had logical thought production, showed no signs of psychosis, and was alert and oriented. LaFollette also observed that Kanengieter's memory was intact and her abstractive abilities, attention, concentration, insight and judgment were all described as "good." Id. Kanengieter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder NOS, [6] history of major depressive disorder, recurrent, history of anorexia nervosa, and Cluster B personality traits[7] and was assigned a global assessment of functioning[8] (GAF) score of 60. Id.

Kanengieter was seen again by LaFollette and Dr. William Fuller at AUPA on October 4, 2010, for medication management. At the time, she was five months postpartum and had gone back to work. AR 205. The report notes she is "[m]oodwise, doing pretty good [sic]. No signs of depression or anxiety. No signs of psychosis. No self-harm thoughts. Memory is intact. Abstractive ability is intact. Good attention and concentration. Good insight and judgment." Id. Her stressors were mild, and Kanengieter was assigned a GAF of 55. Id.

Following the alleged onset of her disability, Kanengieter was seen at AUPA on April 4, 2011, by LaFollette and Dr. Fuller. Her diagnosis remained the same. AR 217. The treatment records indicate that "she is now a stay-at-home mom and enjoys that." Id. The objective ...

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