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Richard v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

January 22, 2018

PAMELA KAYE RICHARD
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN[1]

          TRIMBLE JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes, United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Background

         A. Procedural History

         Pamela Kaye Richard (“Richard) filed an application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) on October 9, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of May 20, 2011 (Doc. 11-1, p. 132/249) due to bipolar disorder 1 mixed, agoraphobia, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety/panic disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and general pain disorder (Doc. 11-1, p. 150/249). That application was denied by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) (Doc. 11-1, p. 80/249).[2]

         A de novo hearing was held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), at which Richard appeared with her attorney and a vocational expert (“VE”) (Doc. 11-1, p. 30/249).

         The ALJ found that, although Richard suffers from a severe impairment, fibromyalgia, she has the residual functional capacity to do the full range of sedentary work and, therefore, could still do her past relevant work as an administrative coordinator and a cash accounting clerk (Doc. 11-1, pp. 15, 19, 23/249). The ALJ concluded that Richard was not disabled at any time from May 11, 2011 through the date of his decision on August 15, 2015 (Doc. 11-1, p. 24/249).

         Richard requested a review of the ALJ's decision, but the Appeals Council declined to review it (Doc. 11/1, p. 4/249) and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”).

         Richard next filed this appeal for judicial review of the ALJ's decision. Richard raises the following issues on appeal (Doc. 12):

1. The ALJ failed to properly assess Richard's mental impairments at Step 2.
2. The residual functional capacity determination of “light” work is not supported by substantial evidence.

         The Commissioner filed a response to Richard's appeal (Doc. 16), to which Richard replied (Doc. 17). Richard's appeal is not before the Court for disposition.

         B. Medical Records.

         In May 2011, Richard was treated at Brentwood Hospital, in Shreveport, Louisiana, for mixed bipolar disorder I and depression (Doc. 11-1, pp. 232-33/249).

         In October 2012, Richard was treated by Dr. Said H. Cantu, a neuropsychiatrist (Doc. 11-1, pp. 225-26/249). Dr. Cantu found Richard suffered from fatigue, hypersomnia, and a euthymic (normal) mood, and he diagnosed bipolar disorder (Doc. 11-1, pp. 225-26/249). Dr. Cantu continued Richard's medications (Inderal, Cogentin, Geodon, and Xanax) (Doc. 11-1, p. 226/249). Richard's symptoms were the same in January 2013, and her medications were continued (Doc. 11-1, pp. 223-24/249).

         In February 2013, Richard's mood was dysthymic/depressed and her affect was abnormal and constricted (Doc. 11-1, p. 221/249). Richard was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and prescribed Zoloft (Doc. 11-1, p. 221/249).

         In May 2013, Richard's mood was euthymic and her affect was normal (Doc. 11-1, p. 218/249). Richard was taking Geodon, Xanax, Cogentin, and Inderal for her bipolar disorder, manic unspecified, and Zoloft for her bipolar affective disorder (Doc. 11-1, p. 220/249). Richard's medications were continued (Doc. 11-1, p. 217/249).

         In August 2013, Richard's mood was dysthymic/depressed, her affect was abnormal and constricted, and she reported anxiety and smoking every day (Doc. 11-1, p. 216/249). In November 2013, Richard's condition was the same, except her affect was normal (Doc. 11-1, pp. 213-14/249). Dr. Cantu found Richard's overall condition was fair, diagnosed bipolar disorder and moderate depression, continued her Geodon, propranolol, Xanax, and Cogentin, and increased her Zoloft dosage (Doc. 11-1, pp. 213-14/249).

         In January 2014, Dr. Cantu noted Richard was anxious and wanted to stop taking Zoloft, claiming it was not working (Doc. 11-1, p. 245/249). Dr. Cantu found Richard's mood was dysthymic and depressed, and her affect was abnormal and constricted (Doc. 11-1, p. 244/249). Dr. Cantu diagnosed bipolar disorder and moderate depression, and prescribed Wellbutrin XL (Doc. 11-1, p. 245/249).

         In February 2014, a state disability determinations consultant, Joseph Kahler, Ph.D., reviewed Richard's medical records and found her affective disorders were not severe (Doc. 11-1, pp. 75/249). Dr. Kahler found Richard had no more than mild restrictions in functioning, and there was no evidence of more than mild work-related limitations attributable to mental disorders (Doc. 11-1, p. 75/249).

         In April 2014, Dr. Cantu found Richard's affect was normal, but her mood was still dysthymic and depressed, and continued her medications (Doc. 11-1, p. 242-43/249). In May 2014, Richard's affect was normal and her mood was dysthymic, Dr. Cantu diagnosed bipolar disorder, manic (unspecified), and prescribed tramadol HC1 (Doc. 11-1, p. 241/249). In October 2014, Richard's mood was still dysthymic, and she had anergia, poor ambition to do things, and was isolated and withdrawn (Doc. 11-1, p. 239/249). Richard was prescribed Wellbutrin XL, Xanax, XR, Geodon, Cogentin, propranolol HCl, and Adipex-P (Doc. 11-1, p. 2239-40/249).

         Dr. Cantu filled out a mental residual functional capacity assessment of Richard in November 2014, to assess her bipolar disorder and anxiety (Doc. 11-1, p. 234/249). Richard's symptoms were decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking, thinking about suicide but not planning it, generalized persistent anxiety, emotional withdrawal and isolation, and decreased energy (Doc. 11-1, p. 234/249). Dr. Cantu noted that Richard's husband usually accompanies her when she leaves home (Doc. 11-1, p. 234/249). Dr. Cantu found that, in a normal workday and workweek, Richard is moderately limited in her ability to understand and remember very short and simple instructions; extremely limited in her ability to understand and remember detailed instructions; moderately limited in her ability to carry out very short and simply instruction; extremely limited in her ability to carry out detailed instructions; extremely limited in her ability to perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, and be punctual within customary tolerances; markedly limited in her ability to sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision; markedly limited in her ability to make judgments on simple work-related decisions; extremely limited in her ability to interact appropriately with the public; extremely limited in her ability to ask simple questions or request assistance; moderately limited in her ability to accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors; markedly limited in her ability to respond appropriately to changes in the work setting; and extremely limited in her ability to set realistic goals or make plans independently of others (Doc. 11-1, pp. 235-36249). Dr. Cantu further stated that Richard has anxiety issues, especially with people; and social anxiety that causes panic and makes her an unstable employee (Doc. 11-1, p. 236/249).

         In January 2015, Richard reported doing well on her medications, was not feeling fatigue, had lost 20 pounds, and had more sexual desire, but her mood was still dysthymic (Doc. 11-1, p. 237/249).

         Richard was evaluated by Dr. Ladislas Lazaro IV, a rheumatologist, in July 2013. Dr. Lazaro noted Richard's diagnosis of fibromyalgia five years before, and her history of symptoms prior to that (Doc. 11-1, p. 204/249). Richard complained of hurting all over all of the time, the pain fluctuating in intensity based on activity and causing her to become increasingly sedentary over the past few years (Doc. 11-1, p. 204/249). Richard did not have any arthritic joint swelling, but had weight gain and mild edema (Doc. 11-1, p. 204/249). Richard had not exercised in the past five years (Doc. 11-1, p. 204/249). Richard also complained of constant fatigue (Doc. 11-1, p. 204/249). Richard was 5' 3 ½” tall, weighed 221 pounds, and her blood pressure was 130/76 (Doc. 11-1, ...


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