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Stefanie Leann Beason v. Michael J. Astrue

March 5, 2013

STEFANIE LEANN BEASON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the review of the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 20) issued by United States Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford, recommending that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11) be denied and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17) be granted.

BACKGROUND

On July 27, 2007, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging disability due to anxiety and intermittent anorexia due to depression. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration.

On June 16, 2009, Plaintiff appeared with counsel for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Medical expert Dr. Sidney Bolter attended the hearing and testified that he reviewed Plaintiff's medical records. (Admin. R. at 69, ECF No. 8). Dr. Bolter testified that it was his opinion that Plaintiff had "depression NOS [i.e., not otherwise specified]" and met Listing § 12.04.*fn1 Id. at 81.

On August 19, 2009, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's application for benefits. Id. at 17-31. The ALJ reviewed the evidence in the record, including the testimony of Plaintiff, Dr. Bolter and the vocational expert. With respect to the testimony of Dr. Bolter, the ALJ stated:

The medical expert, Sidney Bolter, M.D., Board Certified in Psychiatry and Neurology, testified that he had reviewed the entire medical file as outlined above. He gave a detailed longitudinal summary of the claimant's medical history. Based on those records, it was his opinion that the claimant had a severe impairment of depression, not otherwise specified, and borderline traits.

He noted that he did not believe the claimant had a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.... Dr. Bolter testified that the claimant's complaints that none of her medications ever worked was typical for her personality disorder.

He noted that the file lacked a good MSE [i.e., mental status exam] except for the examination performed by Dr. Naficy. He further testified that he did not see any testing for memory in the record and he could therefore not give a complete assessment of the claimant's memory based on the MSEs in the record.

Dr. Bolter said that the number of medications that the claimant was taking would interfere with her memory.... Dr. Bolter testified it was his expert medical opinion that the claimant met the criteria for Listing 12.04 set forth in the Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4. In addition to the entire file, the medical expert based his opinion on Exhibits 12F/6; 23F; and 23F/26-28.

The undersigned accepts the testimony of the medical expert as it relates to the claimant's severe impairments. However, the undersigned has given other opinions regarding the claimant's limitations more weight because they were consistent with the claimant's course of treatment and the findings made upon examination. In addition, the medical expert was unable to specify the evidence to justify his opinion that the claimant had marked limitations in maintaining social functioning and marked limitation in ability to maintain concentration and attention, persistence and pace, and in fact noted that he could not give a complete assessment of the claimant's memory based on the MSEs in the record.

Dr. Bolter based his opinion regarding memory on the effect that the claimant's medications had on her memory. However, the record showed that the claimant consistently denied any adverse side effects from her medications.

Id. at 27-28. After the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of Defendant. Id. at 1.

On June 24, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ...


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