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Scott v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 12, 2016

JUANITA M. SCOTT, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


          Denise K. LaRue United States Magistrate Judge

         Entry on Judicial Review

         Plaintiff appeals the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under the Social Security Act. The parties consented to the Magistrate Judge’s exercise of jurisdiction, and the District Judge referred the case to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and enter judgment in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. For the following reasons, the Court finds that the decision should be upheld.

         I. Background

         In May 2012, Juanita M. Scott applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning April 1, 2009. She was 30 years old at the time of the Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision. She has one year of college education.

         Scott testified at the hearing before the ALJ that she was prevented from working mostly because of psychological problems and some physical problems. [R. 42.] She suffers from depression, anxiety, and endometriosis for which she has had repeated surgeries. She said that at the time of the hearing, four or five days each week her depression was so bad that she wants to crawl back into bed and she does not get dressed. [R. 43, 61.] She takes medication for depression. She has a temper and loses control of herself. [R. 47.] She said that she is uncomfortable around people she does not know. [R. 51.] She stayed home most of the time; she has fewer panic attacks when she stays at home. [R. 60.] She spends her time cleaning, doing crafts, and being with family. [R. 64.]

         Scott had a spinal block when she delivered her daughter five years before and “it went in the wrong spot.” [R. 54.] Since then she has not been able to sit or stand for thirty minutes at a time and she can’t carrying anything. [R. 55.] She said that her memory “is not very good.” [R. 56.] Scott rated her abdominal pain as a seven on a ten-point scale, with medication. [R. 58.] She testified that she is not able to concentrate on a task for two hours. [R. 61.]

         From January 1999 to December 2011, Scott held nineteen different jobs. [R. 62.] She said that she kept each job for a short time because of her depression. She would have a hard time dealing with people at the jobs and controlling her anger [R. 62], leading to arguments with her supervisors and arguments and physical fights with her coworkers. [R. 63.] She also said that she was absent from work too much. [R. 63.]

         In 2012 Scott completed a function report, indicating that when she felt energetic, she cleaned the house or played with her daughter. [R. 206.] She said she was forgetful and need to be reminded of appointments and special dates. [R. 208.] She described her hobbies and interests as reading, planting flowers, playing board games, painting and coloring with her kids, and scrapbooking. [R. 210.] She said that she spends time with others watching movies, scrapbooking, chatting on the computer, and coordinating pitch-in cookouts. [R. 210.] On a regular basis she went to church, the grocery store, doctor appointments, and visited with her mother and friends. [Id.]

         From 2011 to March 2014, Scott received mental health treatment from Meridian Services. She had a traumatic childhood, including abuse. She was diagnosed with Major Depression, Recurrent, Moderate. Her mother, aunt, daughter, and boyfriend provide a good support system for her.

         In June 2011 Scott had a psychiatric assessment with Boris Imperial, M.D. He noted that she started attending Meridian Services “one or two months ago” and was in therapy. [R. 710.] (The records reflect that Scott started at Meridian about one month before, on May 17, 2011. [R. 707; see also Id. at 700-810.]) Dr. Imperial observed that Scott was articulate; her speech tended to be “rather pressured, but [was] generally goal directed, rational and coherent.” [R. 711.] She had no psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, or delusions. He estimated Scott’s intelligence as “bright average” and found her insight “fairly good” and her judgment “excellent.” [Id.] He diagnosed her with Major Depression, Recurrent, Moderate and gave her a GAF score of 40 [R. 712], suggesting some impairment in reality testing or communication or major impairment in several areas such as work, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood. Dr. Imperial prescribed Cymbalta, Pristiq, and Remeron for depression and Scott was to continue therapy.

         The next month Scott told her case manager that she was doing well after surgery and had begun working at a hotel. [R. 722, 725.] She reported that she felt much better with the medications and had not been feeling as angry or anxious; she was feeling “more herself” while on the medications. [R. 725.] In September, Scott reported that she had been promoted at work from the laundry area to the front desk. [R. 744-45.] A month later, Scott said that she had passed her defensive drivers’ test and had begun working in her brother’s business. [R. 753-54, 756.] She reported improvement and satisfaction with her medication and she felt she was handling her emotions better. [R. 754, 775.] In November 2011, Scott was seen at the mental health clinic and noted to be well-groomed, euthymic in mood, appropriately alert with some apprehension. [R. 775.] She reported that she had not felt depressed since she had been on Cymbalta; however, she still had some anxiety and felt overwhelmed. [R. 775.] When she did not take her medication regularly and did not attend therapy sessions, she reported increased symptoms. [R. 728-29, 802, 805, 929.]

         In August 2012, Scott had a consultative mental status examination with Regina K. McKinney, Psy.D. Scott reported that she was depressed on a daily basis and had a history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. She was still taking Cymbalta for depression. [R. 352.] Dr. McKinney noted that Scott was clean and neat in appearance. [R. 355.] Scott reported that she lived with her mother and daughter and that she needed assistance in caring for her daughter because of her physical health problems. [Id.] She said that on days she experienced less pain, she assisted with household chores, prepared her own meals, and shopped for groceries. [Id.] Scott reported that she last worked in March 2010 and was replaced, explaining that she “had too much time off with surgery.” [R. 353.] She also said that she had worked at a Dillard’s store for two and one-half years but she was unable to maintain employment because she missed excessive days of work with her multiple surgeries. [Id.] Scott stated that she had some poor attention and concentration skills and difficulty multi-tasking but that she got along well with coworkers and supervisors. [Id.]

         On examination, Dr. McKinney noted that Scott “appeared to be depressed, ” “cried twice, ” and “appeared to be somewhat anxious.” [R. 355.] She was cooperative and rapport “was adequately established.” [Id.] She interacted appropriately; she “displayed no psychotic symptomatology;” [h]er remote recall and short-term memory skills were adequate, but her attention and concentration skill were limited.” [R. 356.] “[S]he ...

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