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Phillippi v. Astrue

October 19, 2010

TAMMY LEE PHILLIPPI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patrick J. Walsh United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is an appeal by Plaintiff Tammy Lee Phillippi of a decision by the Social Security Administration (hereinafter the "Agency"), denying her application for Disability Insurance benefits ("DIB"). Plaintiff claims that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred when he concluded that she did not meet the Listing requirements for her depressive disorder, rejected the opinion of various doctors, and found that she was not credible. For the following reasons the Agency's decision is affirmed and the case is dismissed with prejudice.

II. SUMMARY OF FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

In July 2006, Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging that she had been disabled since October 2005, due to chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. The Agency denied the application initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff then requested and was granted an administrative hearing before an ALJ. On September 19, 2008, she appeared with counsel at the hearing and testified. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 27-55.) On January 20, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision, denying her claim for benefits. (AR 14-21.) This appeal followed.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The ALJ's Findings Regarding the Medical Evidence

In her first claim of error, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred when he concluded that Plaintiff's depression did not meet the requirements of Listing 12.04, Affective Disorders. (Plaintiff's Summary Judgment Motion (hereinafter "Motion") at 6-11.) In Plaintiff's view, the ALJ improperly ignored the opinions of the doctors to do so. For the reasons explained below, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not err when he found that Plaintiff did not meet the requirements of Listing 12.04.

Listing 12.04, dealing with affective disorders, reads as follows:

Characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.

The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied.

A. Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:

1. Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:

a. Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or

b. Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or

c. Sleep disturbance; or

d. Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or

e. Decreased energy; or

f. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or

g. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or

h. Thoughts of suicide; or

i. Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid ...


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