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Deatra Frazier v. Michael J. Astrue

August 3, 2011

DEATRA FRAZIER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

Plaintiff raises the following issues:

1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the treating physician's opinion; and

2. Whether there is a Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") inconsistency in the ALJ's holding that Plaintiff can perform the jobs of Small Products Assembler II and Cleaner, Housekeeping.

(JS at 2-3.)

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.

I

THE ALJ PROPERLY CONSIDERED THE OPINION OF TREATING PSYCHIATRIST DR. LASALA

In Plaintiff's first issue, she asserts that the ALJ did not give a proper evaluation of Plaintiff's mental condition, in particular, failing to adequately consider the opinions of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Lasala.

A. ALJ Decision and ALJ Hearing.

At the hearing before the ALJ, which occurred on December 17, 2009 (AR 22-52), Plaintiff appeared, testified, and was represented by counsel. The ALJ called upon the services of Dr. Glassmeyer, a medical expert ("ME"), and also a vocational expert ("VE"). The ME testified that he would limit Plaintiff to simple, repetitive tasks, no interaction with the public, only non-intense interactions with co-workers and supervisors, no tasks requiring hypervigilance, and no fast-paced work. (AR 31.) These conclusions were reached based upon the ME's review of the primary treatment records from Dr. Lasala, which the ME interpreted as showing that Plaintiff's symptoms are relatively well-controlled with treatment, although she has had a few decompensations. (AR 32.) The ME testified as to various mental status examinations which were conducted. (AR 32-34.) The ME testified that some of the Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") scores "don't match the mental status examinations that were given, or the diagnosis where [Dr. Lasala] consistently diagnoses [sic] is made bipolar I disorder depressed moderate. But the mental status examinations are consistent throughout. They're checked off with the same symptoms checked each time. And the GAF scores are the same." (AR 35-36.)

In his decision, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has severe impairments which include bipolar disorder (AR 10). He found that her condition did not meet any of the Listings under the mental health categories, and further evaluated the mental health criteria as required (see, infra): mild restriction in activities of daily living; moderate difficulties in social functioning; moderate difficulties with regard to concentration, persistence or pace; and one to two episodes of decompensation of extended duration. (AR 11.)

Considering the evidence, the ALJ limited Plaintiff to performing simple repetitive tasks, no interaction with the public, non-intense interactions with co-workers and ...


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