Disability - GAF scores
Colon v. Barnhart - ED Pa. - March 24, 2006
The ALJ decision mentioned and discussed only 2 of 12 GAF scores in the medical reports. In her brief, the Commissioner offered reasons for this, which the court rejected, noting that it was "bound to consider the final decision of the Commissioner as written and cannot insert into it arguments presented after the [f]act by interested parties."
A claimant's GAF scores are not considered to have a "direct correlations to the severity requirements." 66 Fed Reg 50746, 50764-5 (2000). However, the GAF remains the scale used by mental health professionals to assess current treatment needs and provide a prognosis. As such, it constitutes medical evidence accepted and relied upon by a medical source and must be addressed by an ALJ in making a determination regarding a claimant's testimony.
This "incomplete consideration of the Plaintiff's GAF scores" constituted a "failure [by the ALJ] to properly weigh the evidence before him." The ALJ did not explain his reasons for not considering all of the GAF scores. His failure to include limitations from the GAFs in his hypo further undercut his decision, including the VE's testimony. The hypo must "fairly encompass all of the Plaintiff's significant limitations."