United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Brandy Towle (“Towle”) requests judicial review
of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (the “Commissioner”),
denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 423(d), and for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3). For the following
reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of
March 29, 2013, Towle filed applications for DIB and SSI,
alleging a disability onset date of March 1, 2011, due to
attention deficit disorder (“ADD”), attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), anxiety
and depression. (Filing No. 13-2 at 2-5.) Her claims
were initially denied on June 13, 2013, and again on
reconsideration on August 23, 2013. Id. at 16, 26,
34. Towle filed a written request for a hearing on September
4, 2013. (Filing No. 13-3 at 10.) On February 20,
2014, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
Angela Miranda (the “ALJ”), who appeared by
video. (Filing No. 14-2 at 20.) Towle was present
and represented by counsel. Id. A vocational expert,
Abbe May (the “VE”), appeared by telephone and
testified at the hearing. Id. On September 23, 2014,
the ALJ denied Towle's applications for DIB and SSI.
Id. at 17-19. Following this decision, Towle
requested review by the Appeals Council on November 22, 2014.
Id. at 15. On January 21, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied Towle's request for review of the ALJ's
decision, thereby making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review.
Id. at 2-4. On July 20, 2016, Towle filed this
action for judicial review of the ALJ's decision pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g).
was born on May 28, 1985. (Filing No. 13-2 at 2.) At
the time of her alleged disability onset date, Towle was
twenty-five years old. Id. at 4. Towle filed her DIB
and SSI applications at twenty-seven years old and she was
twenty-nine years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 47; (Filing No. 16 at 3.) Towle has
a high school education from an alternative school program.
See id; (Filing No. 13-2 at 48.) Prior to
her alleged onset date, she had several short-term jobs.
(Filing No. 14-2 at 43-47.) The specific start and
end dates of her employment are unclear from the record.
Towle worked at Big Dog's Kitchen for two and one half
months. Id. at 44. She stopped working at Big
Dog's Kitchen because the owner no longer owned the
business. Id. In 2008 through 2009, Towle worked at
Wendy's for four and one half months as a cashier and
food prepper. Id. at 45. Wendy's terminated
Towle after she consistently missed days of work.
Id. Towle also worked part-time at Crystal Catering
for six months, Dollar General for five months, and
Clancy's Restaurant for two years. Id. 45-46.
Both Crystal Catering and Dollar General terminated Towle for
missing days of work. Id. at 61. Towle stopped
working at Clancy's after moving to a different city and
having her son. Id. at. 46. In 2010, Towle was a
self-employed babysitter and hair stylist. Id. at
43. She worked daily for an entire year. Id. at 44.
After the onset date, in 2012, Towle worked at a warehouse
through Belcan Services for 210 hours, about twenty-six work
days. Id. at 43. The warehouse terminated Towle
because she was in a lot of pain and refused to work late.
Id. She most recently worked at MSIS Staffing in
late 2013, for less than a month. Id. Since that
time, Towle has not been employed. Id. at 47.
is an avid tobacco smoker who has a long history of ADHD.
(Filing No. 13-6 at 37.) She was diagnosed with
inattention and hyperactivity symptoms at age five and seven,
respectively, because she often forgot daily activities, was
easily distracted, lost things, was disorganized, failed to
sustain attention, and she fidgeted and squirmed.
Id. Towle's ADHD remained
“well-controlled” because she took Adderall.
Id. On August 10, 2012, Towle visited her primary
care doctor, Matthew Overley, M.D., who determined that he
was uncomfortable prescribing Adderall to Towle because of
its addictiveness, among other reasons. Id. at 38.
Dr. Overley noted that he would continue to prescribe
Adderall if Towle signed a controlled substance contract, her
drug screen remained negative, and she visited a
psychiatrist. Id. Dr. Overley then referred Towle to
Gina Laite, M.D., but stated that he would prescribe Adderall
until Towle could schedule a visit with Dr. Laite.
visited Dr. Overley the following month, on September 4,
2012, and complained that Adderall worked well in the
mornings but wore off by the afternoon. Id. at 35.
Dr. Overley noted that Towle's hyperactive and
inattentiveness improved, she was well groomed with age
appropriate insight and judgement, and Towle maintained an
estimated average range of intelligence. Id. Dr.
Overley then adjusted Towle's Adderall, from once a day
to twice daily. Id. at 36. On October 4, 2012 and
October 31, 2012, Towle visited Dr. Overley for ADHD
treatment, and upon examination, Dr. Overley determined that
Towle maintained a negative drug screen and a normal mental
status. Id. at 27-22, 32-33. During the October 4
visit, Towle complained about having to visit monthly as well
as having to speak with a therapist in order to receive
Adderall. Id. at 32. Dr. Overley noted that Towle
failed to show up for her initial visit with Dr. Laite, but
she prescribed Towle Adderall regardless, because the
Adderall helped Towle properly care for her children and
helped Towle keep jobs. Id. at 32-33. Dr. Overley
informed Towle that he could not continue to prescribe a
controlled substance if she did not show up for her
appointments with specialists as instructed. Id. at
December 19, 2012, Towle visited Dr. Laite for an initial
assessment regarding her ADHD. Id. at 18. Dr. Laite
noted that Towle was irate because she was referred to a
psychiatrist in order to obtain ADHD medications.
Id. Dr. Laite also opined that Towle's December
drug screen was positive and contained amphetamine.
Id. Nonetheless, Dr. Laite refilled Towle's
Adderall, but noted a concern with possible drug-seeking
behaviors and Towle's hostility. Id. at 19. Dr.
Laite recommended Towle follow up in three months.
February 14, 2013, Towle visited Yvonne Min, a licensed
mental health counselor, and was diagnosed with mild
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”).
Id. at 12-14. On March 27, 2013, Dr. Laite conducted
a follow-up assessment with Towle and Towle reported that she
was unable to keep a job. Id. at 4. Dr. Laite noted
that Towle's concentration and energy decreased, but her
anxiety and sleep disturbance had improved, and she was not
as irritable. Id. Upon examination, Dr. Laite
observed that Towle had a dysphoric mood, poor judgment, and
minimal insight with an otherwise normal mental status exam.
Id. at 5. Dr. Laite diagnosed Towle with ADHD, mood
disorder, and PTSD. Id. She then refilled
Towle's prescription for Adderall, as well as her
prescriptions for Citalopram, Hydroxyzine and started Towle
on Risperidone. Id.
3, 2013, clinical neuropsychologist, Kenneth D. McCoy, Ph.D.,
H.S.P.P., examined Towle and determined that “[b]ased
on mental status examination, [Towle's] reported
attention problems, anxiety, and depression may interfere
with” Towle's ability to perform a simple,
repetitive task continuously for a two-hour period.
Id. at 48. Dr. McCoy noted that Towle's verbal
abilities, including knowledge base, judgment, and abstract
thinking were average to below-average. Id. He also
determined that Towle's memory was intact and she did not
need any supervision. Id. Dr. McCoy diagnosed Towle
with depressive disorder NOS, anxiety disorder NOS, as well
as ADHD and PTSD by history. Id. at 48-49.
13, 2013, Kenneth Neville, Ph.D. (“Dr. Neville”),
reviewed Towle's file and opined that Towle's mental
impairments were not severe and did not significantly limit
her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities.
(Filing No. 13-2 at 8.) Thereafter, on August 20,
2013, Joseph Pressner, Ph.D., reviewed Towle's file and
affirmed Dr. Neville's opinion. Id. at 25.
September 3, 2013, Towle presented to Dr. Overley in
distress, reporting that her cell phone was stolen and
“naked” pictures of her were posted on the
internet. (Filing No. 13-10 at 32). Towle reported
stress over her finances and that she had been looking out
for jobs. Id. Dr. Overley opined that the internet
incident triggered past incidents of trauma and assessed
Towle with PTSD. He encouraged adherence to psychiatry and
therapy appointments. Id.
November 12, 2013, Towle visited Dr. Overley and requested an
Adderall refill. (Filing No. 13-10 at 21.) Dr.
Overley reminded Towle of the numerous psychiatric
appointments she missed with Dr. Laite and refused to refill
her Adderall prescription. Id. Dr. Overley noted
that Towle became “really grouchy and sullen”
when he would not refill her Adderall. Id. The
following day, on November 13, 2013, Towle showed up an hour
and a half late for her scheduled appointment with Dr. Laite.
Id. at 19. Despite being ninety minutes late, Towle
demanded to be seen or to receive her medication.
Id. Dr. Laite informed Towle that she missed
multiple appointments and indicated that she would not
continue prescribing a controlled substance if Towle failed
to keep her appointments. Id. Dr. Laite examined
Towle and noted that Towle was irritable and fidgety with
poor judgment and minimal insight, but otherwise oriented
with a coherent thought process. Id. at 19-20. Dr.
Laite stated that Towle's primary source of dysfunction
was her mood disorder, and opined that Towle would benefit
from being approved for disability benefits. Id. at
February 12, 2014, Dr. Laite reported that Towle's
Adderall refill was declined the prior month because Towle
maintained multiple Hydrocodone prescriptions from different
doctors, including one in Muncie, Indiana. Id. at
10. Towle stated that the month without Adderall was hard and
Dr. Laite agreed to restart the Adderall prescription if
Towle complied with the recommendations and filled her
prescriptions at the same pharmacy. Id. Towle
reported that her combination of citalopram, buspirone, and
hydroxyzine helped her depression, and indicated that she did
not want the medications changed. Id. Upon
examination, Dr. Laite observed that Towle's memory was
intact and her mood improved. Id.
March 4, 2014, Dr. Overley noted that he referred Towle to a
neurologist and to physical therapy, however, Towle failed to
follow through with the referrals. Id. at 5. Dr.
Overley opined that Towle could physically work eight-hour
shifts after she completed his recommended medical
treatments. Id. Dr. Overley also noted that Towle
had no-showed sixteen times since June 2012, for scheduled
appointments with physicians, counselors and for pulmonary
function testing. Id. Dr. Overley further opined
that he could not estimate how far Towle could walk or how
long she could sit or stand in an eight-hour workday because
Towle did not complete the physical therapy evaluation and
treatment that he recommended. I ...