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Cheryl Wade Brewer v. Michael J. Astrue

January 9, 2013

CHERYL WADE BREWER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles F. Eick United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

Pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's and Defendant's motions for summary judgment are denied and this matter is remanded for further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed a complaint on May 2, 2012, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of disability benefits. The parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on November 5, 2012. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on December 5, 2012. Defendant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on January 4, 2013. The Court has taken the motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; "Order," filed May 7, 2012.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

Plaintiff, a former legal assistant and legal secretary, asserts disability since at least August 27, 2008,*fn1 based on, inter alia, alleged psychiatric problems (Administrative record ("A.R.") 49-50, 56, 64, 181-84, 199-202, 204-05, 214-19, 238, 248). In the administrative proceeding, Plaintiff presented opinion evidence from Dr. Gurmeet Multani, Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, and Dr. Pamela J. Henderson, Plaintiff's treating psychologist (A.R. 181-84, 199-202, 204-05).

In an April 22, 2010 evaluation, Dr. Multani diagnosed a "Major Depression Episode" (A.R. 183). According to Dr. Multani, Plaintiff suffers from anxiety, depression, "decreased energy," and "poor" concentration (A.R. 181-82). Dr. Multani gave Plaintiff a "guarded" prognosis and opined that Plaintiff is disabled from all employment (A.R. 183-84 ("Patient is unable to carry out tasks and work on goals and issues. Patient should not be able to go for training for work or apprenticeship for eight hours a day")).

In an August 29, 2011 "Medical Opinion," Dr. Henderson stated that "cognitive limitations due to poor concentration preclude effective problem solving, ability to manage detail/complex information, and ability to cope with work stress" (A.R. 205). Dr. Henderson opined that Plaintiff has "no useful ability to function" in most work-related areas (A.R. 204-05). Dr. Henderson believed that Plaintiff's mental impairments would cause her to be absent from work more than four days each month (A.R. 205).

An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found that Plaintiff suffers from a severe "mood disorder," but retains the mental capacity to perform work requiring only "simple, repetitive tasks" (A.R. 14-15). The ALJ relied upon the opinion of consultative examining psychiatrist Dr. Linda M. Smith, who believed Plaintiff has no psychiatric impairment whatsoever (A.R. 17, 144-52). With regard to the contrary opinions of treating physicians Multani and Henderson, the ALJ stated only the following:

Other treating physician reports suggest the claimant is disabled, but there is no objective evidence of assessments and that of Dr. Multani is mostly anecdotal. On August 29, 2011, Pamela Henderson, Ph.D., completed a medical opinion form at the request of the claimant's representative and the majority of her responses indicated that the claimant has "no useful ability to function." "Her cognitive limitations due to poor concentration preclude effective problem solving, ability to manage detailed/complex information, and ability to cope with work stress." In treating notes from December 2010, Dr. Henderson noted the claimant's mental status evaluation was within normal limits with "memory impairment and suicidal ideation."

(A.R. 17).

The ALJ concluded that, although Plaintiff no longer can perform her past relevant work, there exist other, simpler jobs Plaintiff can perform (A.R. 17-19). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 5-7).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used proper legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. ...


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