United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge
matter is before the Court upon cross motions for summary
judgment [Des 10 and 12]. For the reasons stated below, the
Acting Commissioner's motion for summary judgment will be
Court's review of the Acting Commissioner's decision
concerning disability upon reconsideration is limited to an
inquiry into whether the findings of the Acting Commissioner
are supported by substantial evidence, and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
390, 401 (1971). Further, this Court's review is limited
“to the particular points that [the claimant] appears
to raise in [his] brief on appeal.” Hollon v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 447 F.3d 477, 491 (6th
Wells (“Wells” or “Plaintiff”) filed
an application for Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Security Income on April 25, 2013, alleging
disability commencing on November 5, 2010. [R. 215]. After
being denied initially and upon reconsideration, Wells filed
a Request for Hearing on October 16, 2013. [R. 162]. Her case
was heard by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Gloria B. York,
who issued an unfavorable decision on January 27, 2015. [R.
denial decision, the ALJ found Wells could perform medium
exertion work, with restrictions to perform only routine
repetitive tasks with occasional interaction with supervisors
and coworkers, no interaction with the general public and no
fast-paced work. [R. 36]. Wells contends this finding is not
supported by the treating or examining evidence of record.
further contends when determining Ms. Wells' Residual
Functional Capacity (RFC), the ALJ failed to give proper
weight to the well-supported, disabling opinions of the
consultative examiner. The ALJ, in Wells's view, also
erroneously attributed the claimant's serious mental
health problems to past drug use, and in discrediting the
was 43 years old as of the date of the ALJ's decision [R.
55, 215, 222]. She has a high school equivalent education has
a waste disposal attendant and industrial cleaner [R. 73,
228-37, 239, 259-67]. She alleged disability since November
5, 2010 [R. 215], due to depression; bipolar, psychotic, and
post-traumatic stress disorders; and an irregular heartbeat
[R. 248, 279-81, 296, 299].
March 23, 2012, Plaintiff presented to Good Samaritan
Hospital after “doing odd things” over the prior
three days [R. 311]. A toxicology screening was positive for
methamphetamine [R. 311]. She underwent treatment with
Risperdal (an antipsychotic)[R. 313]. The following day, she
appeared closer to baseline, either because of the effects of
methamphetamine wearing off or the medications [R. 313]. Six
days later, she was diagnosed with psychotic disorder not
otherwise specified for substance-induced psychosis [R. 311]
and discharged with prescriptions for medications [R. 313].
April 2012, Plaintiff presented to Diana Ball, CSW, for
psychotherapy [R. 356]. She reported that she continued to
use methamphetamine after her hospitalization and did not
want to be there [R. 356-57].
later in May 2012, she complained to Michelle Walden, APRN,
of depression [R. 361]. She said she had not used alcohol or
illicit drugs for a month [R. 362]. Ms. Walden diagnosed
polysubstance abuse and post-traumatic stress and mood
disorders [R. 365].
February 2013, Plaintiff presented to Teresa Casey, APRN,
with complaints of high blood pressure, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, and bipolar disorder
[R. 376]. Ms. Casey diagnosed cardiac dysrhythmia and
hypertension [R. 378]. Later that month, she underwent an
electrocardiogram stress test, which did not produce chest
pain and showed no ectopy or arrhythmia [R. 391-92].
5, 2013, Marc Plavin, Ph.D., examined Plaintiff at the
request of the state agency [R. 339-46]. Plaintiff said she
could perform tasks associated with using the telephone and
postal service, budgeting her money, toileting, bathing,
feeding, dressing, going to the grocery store, doing her
laundry and dishes, cooking, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming
independently without supervision [R. 344]. She reported a
history of sexual abuse, sad moods, agitation, anxiety,
auditory hallucinations, and sleep disturbance [R. 345]. She
said she used methamphetamine on a regular basis for a year
and a half ending six months prior [R. 345].
Plavin found that she was well oriented and had a good memory
and judgment; fair ability to calculate and reason
abstractly; and fair to poor fund of information [R. 345].
Dr. Plavin diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
with psychotic symptoms; rule out psychotic disorder;
methamphetamine abuse in early full remission; and history of
alcohol abuse [R. 345]. He said Plaintiff had good ability to
conduct her activities of daily living and understand and
remember simple instructions; fair ability to interact
socially with people that she knew and sustain concentration,
persistence, or pace; and poor ability to interact socially
with the public and people at work, tolerate stress, and
respond to the pressures of a day-today work setting [R.
346]. No objective testing was performed by Dr. Plavin.
13, 2013, Judith LaMarche, Ph.D., a state agency
psychologist, reviewed the evidence and said Plaintiff would
perform best in a position with the demands of only simple,
routine, repetitive tasks in a low public exposure setting
with little time pressure [R. 81-94].
continued to see Ms. Walden from June 2013 to July 2014. In
August 2013, she said she started taking Abilify (an
antipsychotic) after she stopped taking Risperdal on her own
and was experiencing psychotic symptoms [R. 348]. She stated
she had not used illicit drugs for eight months [R. 348]. Ms.
Walden diagnosed PTSD, amphetamine abuse, and a mood disorder
[R. 350] and adjusted Plaintiff's medications [R. 351].
September 2013, Diosdado Irlandez, M.D., a state agency
physician, reviewed the evidence and said Plaintiff did not
have a severe physical impairment [R. 111-24].
that month, Plaintiff told Ms. Walden that she took Prozac
(an antidepressant) and had a stable mood [R. 410]. She also
reported that she had been sober for nine to 10 months [Tr.
January 2014, Plaintiff presented to Ms. Walden, requesting a
change in her Risperdal [R. 401]. She reported that she had
not relapsed on methamphetamine in over 12 months [R. 401].
Ms. Walden described Plaintiff's mood as
“stable” and said she was “best [she had]
ever seen her” [R. 402]. She ...