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Kapor v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

November 16, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marilyn Hall Patel District Judge United States District Court Northern District of California


Re: Cross Motions for Summary Judgment

On December 28, 2004 claimant Natasha Kapor brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for "Childhood Disability Benefits." Now before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. Having considered the arguments presented and for the reasons stated below, the court enters the following memorandum and order.


Claimant is a twenty-nine-year-old woman with an eleventh grade education and no vocationally relevant past work experience. Tr. 247--48. At the present time claimant lives with her family and relies on public transit or family members for transportation. Id. at 248.

I. Psychiatric History Before the Age of Twenty-Two

In her Disability Report, claimant alleges that she became disabled on January 1, 1983 due to psychological problems. Id. at 60. At the age of twelve or thirteen, the problems became more apparent as claimant began to experience panic attacks where she would become shaky and nervous. Id. at 251. Although claimant's performance in school is described as average, her high school teachers recommended that she enroll in the honors curriculum. Tr. 251--52. The panic attacks and nervousness, however, caused claimant to miss class to such an extent that a truancy officer was eventually sent to the family residence. Id. at 252. By the time claimant was seventeen she had stopped attending school altogether. Id. According to claimant, the social setting of the school impaired her concentration and she felt uncomfortable being around people. Id. at 253.

Claimant first began to receive counseling at age six, and this continued intermittently until age seventeen. Id. at 156--96. The progress reports for the period indicate that claimant's mother reported that claimant would get confused, was not doing well in school, would not listen to her, and had problems concentrating. The reports also indicate that claimant fought regularly with her brother and father. 156. In addition, plaintiff was negatively affected by recurring difficulties in her parents marriage. Id. at 159, 168, 178, 196. Despite these difficulties, the counselor regularly noted that claimant was an intelligent and talented child. Id. at 156, 158, 159.

On October 26, 1993, at the age of seventeen, claimant was evaluated by Dr. Bobrow, a therapist from Kaiser Permanente, and a psychiatric evaluation form was completed. Id. at 153--55. The mental status examination noted that claimant was attractive, articulate, slightly dysthymic and anxious. Id. at 155. Claimant identified school as the major cause of her worries, anxieties and sense of pressure. The initial diagnostic impression of the therapist was dysthymia. Although, the treatment plan called for further evaluation of claimant, claimant allegedly stopped the followup treatment when Dr. Bobrow refused to write a note for her recommending home study. Id. at 149. Claimant asserts that she stopped attending because she was uncomfortable with Dr. Bobrow as a therapist and found his attitude towards her inconsiderate and inappropriate. Id. at 236.

II. Psychiatric History After the Age of Twenty-Two

Following this examination by Dr. Bobrow, there are no medical treatment records from September 1994 to July 2002. On July 17, 2002, a psychiatric diagnostic intake evaluation was completed at Kaiser Hospital. Id. at 133. Claimant, who was twenty six at the time, reported increased anxiety and isolation along with panic symptoms. Id. at 134. The diagnosis was social phobia and claimant was referred to Dr. Elke Zuercher-White for an anxiety evaluation. Id.

The anxiety evaluation was conducted on July 24, 2002. Tr. 129. During this evaluation, claimant complained of a nervous stomach, dizziness, and a rapid heart beat whenever she was in social situations or in anticipation of them. Id. The social situations she described included: meeting new people, crowds, parties, crowded public restrooms, eating or drinking with unfamiliar people, and public places in general. Id. at 130. Claimant also reported washing her hands every 15--20 minutes and showering for half an hour every day. Id. at 131. Dr. Zuercher-White diagnosed claimant with social phobia and a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Id. at 132. The doctor noted that the extent of her social phobia did not appear to fully explain her extremely poor ability to function and that it appeared that a lack of parental expectations was the likely cause. Id.

On January 10, 2003, at the age of twenty seven, a psychological consultive evaluation was conducted by Dr. Jonathan Gonick-Hallows, Ph.D. Id. at 197. According to claimant, she had not seen a therapist since age seventeen because of bad experiences in her psychotherapy relationships and a resistance to group therapy. Id. Dr. Gonick-Hallows diagnosed claimant with mixed anxiety disorder with social phobia, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and severe performance anxiety. Id. at 199. The doctor concluded that claimant was thoughtful and articulate, but somewhat fearful and avoidant. Id. at 200. Indeed, the prognosis provided by Dr. Gonick-Hallows was guarded, noting that there was a possibility for improvement if claimant was able to find a comfortable long-term pyschotherapeutic situation with an unusually experienced psychotherapist. In the absence of such treatment, the doctor predicted that claimant would continue to be compromised in her level of adjustment. Id.

On January 13, 2004, another psychological evaluation was conducted by Dr. Joanne C. Keaney. Id. at 242. The evaluation was scheduled in order to clarify the presence and severity of the client's mental illness prior to age twenty-two. Id. at 239. Dr. Keaney administered a number of tests, including a self-report personality test that assesses emotional and psychological difficulties. Based on the test data, the doctor concluded that the claimant was currently ...

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