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Hesseltine v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 26, 2015

Tammy Hesseltine, Plaintiff - Appellant
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted April 17, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Davenport.

For Tammy Hesseltine, Plaintiff - Appellant: Mary K. Hoefer, HOEFER LAW FIRM, Iowa City, IA; Thomas A. Krause, SCHOTT MAUSS & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Des Moines, IA.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant - Appellee: Bert W. Coleman, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Emily J. Kirk, Assistant Regional Counsel, Kristi Schmidt, Deputy Chief Counsel, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Office of General Counsel Region VII, Kansas City, MO; William C. Purdy, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Des Moines, IA.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges. COLLOTON, Circuit Judge, dissenting.


Page 462

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Tammy Hesseltine applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found Hesseltine was not disabled because the combination of her mental and physical impairments did not meet the listed impairment under 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subp. P. App. 1, § 12.05C. The Social Security Appeals Council denied Hesseltine's request for review, and the district court affirmed. On appeal, Hesseltine argues the ALJ failed to sufficiently address whether her impairments medically equal Listing 12.05C. We agree, and remand the case for further proceedings.

I. Background

In 1993, when Hesseltine was eight years old, she was given IQ testing by a school psychologist.[1] Under the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, she obtained a full scale IQ score of 70, a 72 in processing, and a 73 in verbal. The psychologist noted that Hesseltine was " within the Borderline range of mental functioning." The psychologist also found that Hesseltine's " adaptive behavior composite score" was a 71, which placed her in the third percentile of her peers. When Hesseltine

Page 463

graduated from high school in 2003, she read at a sixth grade level.

Hesseltine underwent several surgeries as a child to treat an impairment in her left leg caused by Perthes disease, a disorder that cuts off blood flow to the hip. In 2004, when Hesseltine was age 18, David Speigel, M.D., noted that there had been no changes in her hip since 2001 and that her Perthes disease was asymptomatic. Her left leg was 1.5 centimeters shorter than her right leg, and her mobility was limited by the condition.

In 2005, Roger Mraz, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, administered a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and determined that Hesseltine had a full scale IQ score of 71, a processing score of 73, and a verbal score of 74. Dr. Mraz noted that " [o]verall, the results of the intellectual assessment suggests [sic] that Tammy is functioning near the lower end of the Borderline Range, at the 3rd percentile." Dr. Mraz additionally assessed Hesseltine's adaptive behavior, based on consultations with her aunt. Her daily living skills were low-average, in the 25th percentile, but her communication skills were " below the 0.1 percentile" due to her " low academic skills" and " borderline adaptive functioning." The assessment concluded that " Tammy should have no difficulty following simple instructions, and would probably do better on repetitive type tasks."

From 2004 to 2005, Hesseltine worked irregularly as a cook's helper in a school cafeteria. From 2005 to 2007, Hesseltine worked part-time at a laundry business with the help of a job coach. Her supervisor at the laundry indicated that Hesseltine " works better than most in the same position," that she required little supervision and sometimes had " a lot of independence," and that he " would hire her again." In 2009, Hesseltine worked briefly as a housekeeper in a casino.

In 2006, Hesseltine was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, but after several months her symptoms resolved and she was able to manage her syndrome with medication. In 2007, C.W. Huang, M.D., gave Hesseltine a physical examination and observed limitation in flexion of her left hip and knee, " probably due to obesity." He noted that left hip pain would occur if she stood for more than one hour.

Hesseltine twisted her hip while at work in July 2009. She sought treatment, and an X-ray revealed " extensive changes consistent with Perthes disease." Her treating physician, Gregory Bell, M.D., diagnosed " acute exacerbation of left hip pain" but indicated that no MRIs or other follow up was necessary and that Hesseltine " can go back to work in a week like she is planning to do."

Hesseltine completed a function report form in 2007, and again in 2012. She indicated that she lived with her husband, that she " prepare[d] food all the time daily," as well as " small amounts of cleaning, laundry, [and] mowing" with breaks. She reported that she went shopping for household items and food, but that she had trouble counting change and got confused. She stated that she followed cooking recipes " Ok." She also reported that she could not ...

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