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Roberts v. Commissioner, SSA

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

March 27, 2017



          Christine A. Nowak, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff brings this appeal under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income [Dkt. 1]. After reviewing the Briefs submitted by the Parties, as well as the evidence contained in the Administrative Record, the Court finds that the Commissioner's decision should be REMANDED.


          I. Procedural History Of The Case

         Jeri Jae Roberts (“Plaintiff”) filed her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (“Act”) on June 25, 2012, and her application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act on August 2, 2012, alleging an onset of disability date of May 7, 2012 in each application. Plaintiff's applications were initially denied by notice on October 5, 2012, and again upon reconsideration on January 14, 2013, after which Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). Id. at 138-43, 150-62. The ALJ conducted a hearing on November 4, 2013 (“Hearing”), and heard testimony from Plaintiff and Vocational Expert LaKedra Parker (“Ms. Parker” or “VE”). Id. at 28-76. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at Hearing. Id. On January 28, 2014, the ALJ issued his decision denying benefits, and found Plaintiff not disabled at Step Five of the prescribed sequential evaluation process (discussed infra). Id. at 10-27. Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, and on June 26, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff request for review, making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 1-9.

         On August 21, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Complaint with this Court [Dkt. 1]. On December 21, 2015, the Administrative Record was received from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) [Dkt. 12]. On December 22, 2015, this case was assigned to the undersigned by consent of all Parties for further proceedings and entry of judgment [Dkt. 13]. Plaintiff filed her Brief on March 4, 2016 [Dkt. 20]. On May 3, 2016, the Commissioner filed her Brief in Support of the Commissioner's Decision [Dkt. 21]. Plaintiff filed her Reply brief on May 13, 2016 [Dkt. 22].

         II.Statement Of Relevant Facts

         1 .Age, Education, and Work Experience

         Plaintiff was born on August 27, 1967, making her forty-four years old at the alleged disability onset date (and classified as a “younger person”) [TR at 23, 191, 193]. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). Plaintiff asserts that her onset date of disability is May 7, 2012 [TR at 191, 193]. Plaintiff has at least a high school education. Id. at 23, 32-33. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a cashier, clerical worker, guest services, photographer in an amusement park, food service supervisor, post master, teller, stocker, and an amusement park decorator. Id. at 69.

         2. Medical Record Evidence

         a. Physical Health Treatment

         Plaintiff was treated at Lake Cities Medical Center from 2010 through 2012 for conditions including hypertension, obesity, hypothyroidism, headache and myalgias [TR at 382-486]. Plaintiff underwent polysomnogram testing in 2010 that revealed moderate to severe sleep apnea. Id. Records from Presbyterian Hospital shows that Plaintiff presented twice in 2011 with complaints of headache and chest pain. Id. at 291-381. In September 2011, an MRI of the cervical spine showed a small herniated disc with mild cord impression, and Plaintiff was diagnosed with headache, precordial chest pain, history of thyroid cancer and uncontrolled hypertension. Id. at 291-336.

         Plaintiff was referred to Paramount Cardiovascular Associates in February 2011 to evaluate her complaints of sharp chest pain and dizziness. Id. at 382-591. Dr. Stephen Glaser noted a history of cerebrovascular accident in 2005. The record also contains notes from Rheumatology Associates and Dr. Zoran Kurepa dated from 2012 showing diagnoses of fibromyalgia, hypertension, hypothyroidism, obesity, and depressive disorder. Id. at 592-618. Plaintiff reported symptoms of severe body pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, insomnia, decreased memory, and feeling itch, and her physician noted the presence of 18/18 positive tender points. Id. In 2012 and 2013, Dr. Tya-Mae Julien treated Plaintiff, and Dr. Julien diagnosed Plaintiff with hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, morbid obesity, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and multiple joint pains. Id. at 671-94, 707-35. Additionally, Plaintiff was treated at Primary Care Clinic of North Texas for conditions including fibromyalgia, hypertension, headaches, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and depression. Id. at 753-57.

         b. Mental Health Treatment

         Plaintiff underwent three individual counseling sessions in 2012 and 2013 for depression and posttraumatic stress related to prior sexual assault. Id. at 701-06, 747-52. Denton County MHMR treated Plaintiff in October 2013 for major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder NOS, posttraumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. Id. at 736-46. Plaintiff was assigned an initial Global Assessment of Functioning score of 45. Id. On September 6, 2012, Dr. Kim Johnson performed a psychological consultative examination of Plaintiff. Id. at 619-24. Dr. Johnson diagnosed Plaintiff with major depressive disorder, severe with psychotic features, panic disorder with agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder. Id.

         c. State Agency - Drs. Ward, Rowley, ...

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