United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
the court is an appeal of the Social Security
Administration's denial of the Dianne Veillon's
application for disability insurance benefits (Rec. Doc. 1)
filed by Ms. Veillon. Both Ms. Veillon and the Social
Security Administration (SSA) have submitted briefs in
support of their positions (Rec. Docs. 11, 14, 17). For the
following reasons, the administrative decision of the SSA
will be AFFIRMED.
& PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2010, Ms. Veillon was fired from her job as a dietary aide at
Byrd Hospital when her depression interfered with her ability
to do her job and get along with others. See, e.g.,
Application, (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 178); Dr. Adams's
Psychological Evaluation, (Rec. Doc. 8, p.
378). Ms. Veillon subsequently sought
treatment for depression, anxiety disorder, and bipolar
disorder. Between 2010 and 2013, she was hospitalized several
times as a high suicide risk. (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 378).
2013, she filed an application with the SSA for disability
insurance benefits. In her application, she claimed to suffer
from depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder,
borderline intellectual functioning (BIF), and mild mental
retardation (MMR). She claimed that these impairments caused
her to lose her job and prevented her from being able to
application was denied initially on May 14, 2014, based on
her work history, medical history, her consultative
expert's (Dr. Adams) opinion, and the SSA's
consultative expert's (Dr. Kahler) opinion. (Rec. Doc. 8,
pp. 50-63). Based on his review of Ms. Veillon's medical
records, his meeting with Ms. Veillon, and a Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale (WAIS) assessment, Dr. Adams concluded
that Ms. Veillon suffered from depression, anxiety disorder,
bipolar disorder, BIF, and MMR. (Rec. Doc. 8, pp. 377-81).
Dr. Adams also concluded that Ms. Veillon would not be able
to withstand a 40-hour work week unless her symptoms
lessened. (Rec. Doc. 8, pp. 377-81). The SSA's
consultative expert, Dr. Kahler, based his opinion on Ms.
Veillon's medical records, including Dr. Adams's
opinion, and he concluded that Ms. Veillon suffered from
depression, general anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder.
After reviewing Ms. Veillon's WAIS assessment, Dr. Kahler
did not conclude that Ms. Veillon had medically determinable
impairments of BIF or MMR because Ms. Veillon's actual
functioning contradicted the results. (Rec. Doc. 8, pp.
56-58). The initial denial agreed with Dr. Kahler that Ms.
Veillon could "perform simple jobs without complex
instructions, and ones that do not involve working closely
with others." (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 63).
the initial denial, Ms. Veillon requested a hearing, which
was held before an administrative law judge (ALT) on
December 12, 2014, in Alexandria Louisiana. The petitioner,
Ms. Veillon; a medical expert, Dr. Stigall; and a vocational
expert, Mr. Rue, testified at the hearing. Based on the
hearing testimony and the evidence in the record, which
included the opinions of Dr. Adams and Dr. Kahler, the ALJ
denied the application. The ALJ found that Ms. Veillon's
medically determinable impairments included depression,
anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder, but that they did not
include BIF or MMR. This aligned with the conclusions of Dr.
Stigall and Dr. Kahler. She discredited Dr. Adams's
conclusion that Ms. Veillon suffered from BIF or MMR and that
Ms. Veillon could not withstand a 40-hour work week because
Ms. Veillon graduated from high school, attended culinary
school, worked for several years, handled her own finances,
maintained most aspects of her personal care, interacted with
family members, drove a car, and attended church. (Rec. Doc.
8, pp. 75-77). The ALJ also gave little weight to Dr.
Adams's WAIS assessment determination because it was
"based largely upon the claimant's subjective
reports of daily activities," and Ms. Veillon had a
history of exaggerating symptoms. (Rec. Doc. 8, pp. 76-77).
on Ms. Veillon's medically determinable impairments, the
ALJ found that she was limited to "unskilled, simple,
routine, and repetitive jobs without quotas; occasional
changes to the work setting; occasional work-related
decisionmaking; no interaction with the public or coworkers;
and occasional interaction with supervisors." (Rec. Doc.
8, p. 73). The vocational expert determined that based on Ms.
Veillon's age, work history, education, and the above
functional limitations, that Ms. Veillon could find a job as
a kitchen helper, cook helper, or dining room attendant.
(Rec. Doc. 8, pp. 44-48). Based on the vocational
expert's testimony, the ALJ found that Ms. Veillon was
not disabled because she was able to work in these three
jobs. (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 79).
Veillon requested that the SSA Appeals Council review the
ALJ's decision, and on May 10, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied the request. (Rec. Doc. 8, pp. 5-7). She then filed
this civil action, appealing the SSA's denial of
herdisability application. Ms. Veillon appeals the decision
on two main grounds: (1) the ALJ did not consider all
impairments when determining Ms. Veillon's functional
capacity, and (2) the ALJ did not include all relevant
limitations in her hypothetical questions to the vocational
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's "review of the Commissioner's decision
is limited to two inquiries: (1) whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole,
and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the proper legal
standard." Perez v. Barnhart, 415 F.3d 457, 461
(5th Cir. 2005) (citing Greenspan v. Shalala, 38
F.3d 232, 236 (5th Cir. 1994)).
Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. It is more than a mere scintilla and less than a
preponderance. In applying the substantial evidence standard,
the court scrutinizes the record to determine whether such
evidence is present, but may not reweigh the evidence or
substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's. Conflicts
of evidence are for the Commissioner, not the courts, ...