Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Applestein-Chakiris v. Astrue

August 5, 2009

ROBBIN APPLESTEIN-CHAKIRIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robbin Applestein-Chakiris claims she became disabled on January 1, 1991, after her second suicide attempt, due to chronic depression, memory loss, and degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 175-76.) On December 22, 2004, Plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income, and her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 114.) Administrative Law Judge Larry B. Parker ("ALJ") held a hearing on July 26, 2006, and, in a decision filed on August 17, 2006, found Plaintiff not disabled and therefore ineligible for Supplemental Security Income. (Tr. 47-80, 172-80.) On April 19, 2007, the Appeals Council remanded the case back to the ALJ to (1) consider new and material evidence from Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Prather; (2) obtain additional evidence concerning Plaintiff's bipolar disorder, degenerative disc disease, and drug dependency; and (3) conduct further proceedings required to determine whether drug addiction and alcoholism are contributing factors material to the finding of disability. (Tr. 192-93.) The ALJ held another hearing on October 1, 2007, and, in a decision filed on December 13, 2007, again found Plaintiff not disabled and ineligible for Supplemental Security Income. (Tr. 36-37.) The ALJ's decision became final on November 18, 2008, when the Appeals Council declined review. (Tr. 6-8.)

Plaintiff presently seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and DENIES Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. The case is remanded to the Commissioner for calculation of benefits.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 52 year old woman with a GED, obtained in 1994, after dropping out of school in the seventh grade. (Tr. 50, 289.) Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since January 1, 1991, after her second suicide attempt, due to chronic depression, memory loss, and degenerative disc disease of her lumbar spine. However, Plaintiff did not file a Title XVI application for supplemental security income until December 22, 2004. (Tr. 50, 175-76.) Plaintiff also has a history of intravenous drug abuse, hepatitis C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 176, 280.) Plaintiff worked as a greeter and cashier at Wal-Mart from 1998 to 2001, as a telemarketer in 2001, and as a home health attendant in 2002. (Tr. 246.) Plaintiff was unable to maintain employment at these jobs because of her failure to perform duties, poor attendance, and difficulties in working with people. (Tr. 280, 291-92.)

The record indicates that Plaintiff grew up in a chaotic environment with alcoholic parents. (Tr. 616.) Plaintiff was molested by one of her mother's boyfriends when she was young. (Id.) Plaintiff became depressed at a young age and began abusing heroin at the age of 12 or 13, around the time she dropped out of school. (Id.) Plaintiff has been repeatedly incarcerated since the 1970's, usually for drug offenses. (Tr. 474.) Cheryl Ann Horton, who has known Plaintiff since she was 20 years old, states that Plaintiff has always been unstable. (Tr. 269-76.)

A. Plaintiff's Physical Impairments

The record contains medical documentation of Plaintiff's back pain as early as 1997. (Tr. 327-28.) Plaintiff's back pain and degenerative disc disease were noted on numerous occasions during her incarceration in 2003 and 2004. (Tr. 398, 381, 379-80, 357, 350-52, 353-54.) Plaintiff's depression was also noted. (Tr. 378.)

On March 21, 2005, Dr. Thomas Sabourin examined Plaintiff for complaints of pain in her upper and lower back, wrist, and hips. (Tr. 421.) Dr. Sabourin diagnosed chronic lumbar strain and sprain syndrome, noting that Plaintiff "most likely does have some limitations." (Tr. 424.) Dr. Sabourin opined that Plaintiff could only lift or carry fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds frequently, could stand and walk six hours of an eight-hour workday, and could sit for six hours of an eight-hour workday. (Id.) Dr. Sabourin also noted that Plaintiff was currently using Robaxin, Motrin, and Vicodin to treat her back pain. (Id.)

Beginning on March 7, 2007, Dr. Douglas Politoske of San Diego Digestive Disease Consultants treated Plaintiff for her liver problems. (Tr. 587.) Dr. Politoske diagnosed Plaintiff with cirrhosis of the liver and noted her bipolar disorder. (Tr. 591-93.) On April 9, 2007, Dr. Politoske again noted Plaintiff's underlying cirrhosis with evidence of portal hypertension, and recommended a liver biopsy. (Tr. 594.) On June 6, 2007, Dr. Politoske diagnosed cirrhosis of the liver and again noted Plaintiff's bipolar disorder. (Tr. 595.)

On August 16, 2007, Dr. Thomas Sabourin again examined Plaintiff at the request of the Department of Social Services. (Tr. 603.) Plaintiff's chief complaint was pain in the lower back and left shoulder. (Id.) Dr. Sabourin diagnosed degenerative disc disease at L4-L5 moderate and L5-S1 severe and mild adhesive capsulitis of the left shoulder. (Tr. 607.) Dr. Sabourin opined that Plaintiff could only lift or carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; could stand and walk up to six hours of an eight-hour workday and sit for six hours of an eight-hour work day; and could climb, stoop, kneel, and crouch only occasionally. Dr. Sabourin also opined that Plaintiff had manipulative limitations and would be able to work with her left arm above shoulder level only occasionally. (Id.)

B. Plaintiff's Mental Impairments

On March 24, 2005, consulting physician Dr. Mounir Soliman examined Plaintiff for complaints of depression and nightmares. (Tr. 428.) Dr. Soliman recorded Plaintiff's mood as depressed with congruent affect. Dr. Soliman noted that Plaintiff's neurovegetative signs and symptoms were significant for decreased concentration and decreased energy. (Tr. 430.) Dr. Soliman diagnosed depression not otherwise specified, hepatitis B and C, back pain, and lack of social support. (Tr. 430-31.) Dr. Soliman opined that Plaintiff was able to understand, carry out, and remember simple and complex instructions; Plaintiff was able to interact with co-workers, supervisors, and the general public; and Plaintiff was able to withstand the stress and pressures associated with an eight-hour workday and day-to-day activities. (Tr. 431.)

Beginning in September 2005, Dr. J. Moussai of UCSD treated Plaintiff for complaints of depression, "feeling lousy", and insomnia. (Tr. 465-67.) On September 9, Dr. Moussai noted Plaintiff's obesity, cooperation, irritability, hoarse speech, depressed mood with constricted affect, auditory hallucinations, and generalized anxiety symptoms. (Tr. 465.) Dr. Moussai diagnosed depression with psychotic features, anxiety not otherwise specified, and prescribed Celexa*fn1 . (Id.) On October 21, 2005, Dr. Moussai recorded Plaintiff's progress as poor and noted her anxiety, agitation and apparent crying. (Tr. 463.) On November 17, 2005, Dr. Moussai treated Plaintiff for complaints of tactile hallucinations, skin picking, and mild anhedonia. (Tr. 462.) Dr. Moussai described Plaintiff as depressed with constricted affect, slow in speech, and paranoid. (Id.) Dr. Moussai again prescribed Celexa. (Id.) On January 25, 2006, Dr. Moussai treated Plaintiff for complaints of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, noting that Plaintiff exhibited poor compliance in taking medications. (Tr. 461.) Dr. Moussai made note of Plaintiff's slow speech, psychomotor retardation, and depressed mood with constricted affect. (Id.) Dr. Moussai augmented Plaintiff's Celexa treatment with a prescription of Risperdal*fn2 . (Id.)

In February 2006, Plaintiff attempted suicide by walking into oncoming traffic and was subsequently treated at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital by Dr. Emad Tadros. (Tr. 473-74.) Dr. Tadros treated Plaintiff for complaints of being tired of living, hearing voices, and anxiety. (Id.) Dr. Tadros described Plaintiff as "[h]opeless, pessimistic, and helpless," with a severely dysphoric mood and affect markedly restricted to depression. (Tr. 475.) Dr. Tadros diagnosed manic depressive disorder, severe depression, polysubstance abuse, and substance induced mood disorder. (Tr. 476.)

On February 28, 2006, Plaintiff was transferred from Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital to UCSD, where Dr. Calabrese noted agitation and an anxious mood during Plaintiff's mental status examination. (Tr. 660.)

Beginning in April 2006, psychiatrist Dr. Richard Prather of UCSD treated Plaintiff for her mental problems. (Tr. 658.) On April 3, 2006 Plaintiff complained of running out of Celexa but indicated that the medication did not help. (Id.) Dr. Prather noted Plaintiff's casual disheveled dress, raspy speech, depressed mood, and constricted affect. (Id.) Dr. Prather prescribed Seroquel*fn3 and Risperdal. (Id.) On May 2, 2006, Dr. Prather treated Plaintiff for complaints of sleep problems and stress. (Tr. 657.) Dr. Prather noted a partial response to treatment. (Id.) Dr. Prather also noted Plaintiff's casual dress and grooming, slow speech, depressed mood, and sullen affect. (Id.) Dr. Prather prescribed a higher dosage of Seroquel and also prescribed Wellbutrin*fn4 . (Id.) On June 19, 2006, Dr. Prather treated Plaintiff for complaints of continued depression. (Tr. 656.) Dr. Prather noted a partial response to treatment in addition to Plaintiff's casual dress and grooming, depressed mood, anxiety, and constricted affect. (Id.) On July 10, 2006, Dr. Prather treated Plaintiff for complaints of hypomania and depression. (Tr. 655). Dr. Prather noted a fairly good response to treatment, and observed Plaintiff's casual dress and grooming, less depressed mood, and wider range of affect in his mental status examination. (Id.) Dr. Prather again prescribed Seroquel. (Id.) On September 5, 2006, Dr. Prather treated Plaintiff for complaints of continued depression. (Tr. 654.) Dr. Prather took note of Plaintiff's casual dress and grooming, less slow speech, depressed mood, and overall down affect. (Id.) Dr. Prather continued Plaintiff on her medications and increased the dosage of Wellbutrin. (Id.)

On October 9, 2006, Dr. Prather wrote a letter to Plaintiff indicating his diagnosis of severe bipolar affective disorder with severe symptoms, energy and fatigue problems, and motivation and endurance problems. (Tr. 586.) In the letter, Dr. Prather observed that Plaintiff had difficulty concentrating, retaining information, and following through with tasks. (Id.) Dr. Prather opined that Plaintiff's condition ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.