United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
TINA A. GOYTIA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT; DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RE: DKT. NOS. 18, 21
J. DAVILA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tina A. Goytia (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain review of a
final decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administrationdenying her claim for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”). In a Motion for Summary Judgment,
Plaintiff seeks an order reversing the decision and awarding
benefits, or alternatively, remanding the action to the
Commissioner for further administrative proceedings. Dkt. No.
18. The Commissioner opposes Plaintiff's motion and seeks
summary judgment affirming the decision denying benefits.
Dkt. No. 21.
the record reveals the Commissioner's decision is not
supported by substantial evidence, Plaintiff's motion
will be granted and the Commissioner's cross-motion will
applied for SSI on September 7, 2012, alleging a disability
beginning on April, 1, 2012. Tr., Dkt No. 15, at 165.
Plaintiff's claim was initially denied by the
Commissioner on November 27, 2012. Id. at 103-107.
Plaintiff requested reconsideration of that decision, which
was denied by the Commissioner on July 1, 2013. Id.
subsequently requested a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”), which occurred before ALJ Betty
Roberts Barbeito on May 22, 2014. Id. at 31-69;
115-117. Plaintiff, represented by counsel, testified on her
own behalf. Id. at 35-38. The ALJ also heard
testimony from an expert psychiatrist, Dr. Robert McDevitt,
and a vocational expert, Thomas Linvill. Id. at
38-69. In a written decision dated May 30, 2014, the ALJ
ultimately found that Plaintiff was not disabled and had the
residual functional capacity to perform “light
work” limited to “simple, repetitive tasks
characteristic of unskilled work.” Id. at
sought administrative review of the ALJ's determination.
Id. at 8-9. On August 7, 2014, the Appeals Council
denied the request for review, and the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner. Id.
at 1-6. Plaintiff then commenced this action, and the instant
summary judgement motions followed.
Plaintiff's Personal, Vocational and Medical History
to her testimony before the ALJ, Plaintiff was born on
September 10, 1981, and was 32 years old at the time of the
hearing. Id. at 36. She attended school to the
eleventh grade, did not complete a GED, and did not have any
vocational training after high school. Id. at 36-37.
Plaintiff is single and has three children, who were
seventeen years old, fourteen years old and twelve years old
when she appeared before the ALJ. Id. at 36. She was
most recently employed as a caretaker of non-verbal and
immobile patients in 2010. Id. at 37.
claims an inability to work due to Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (“PTSD”), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
(“OCD”), diabetes mellitus, and obesity.
Id. at 277. Plaintiff began receiving medical
treatment for physical and psychiatric conditions at the
Eureka Community Health Center in 2011. Records obtained from
that facility show that on December 21, 2011, Plaintiff
reported “severe anxiety” lasting for
“several minutes” which “spontaneously goes
away.” Id. at 340. She was diagnosed with
diabetes mellitus on or about March 5, 2012, and began
checking her blood glucose levels shortly thereafter.
Id. at 337-38. On April 23, 2012, Plaintiff reported
she had “a lot of anxiety” over the diabetes
diagnosis, but also reported having anxiety “for years
and it is getting worse.” Id. at 334. On May
7, 2012, Plaintiff was “tearful, ” said anxiety
was “taking over her life, ” and stated she could
not visit her mother. Id. at 329. Plaintiff also
stated she was checking her blood glucose level five times
per day. Id.
8, 2012, Plaintiff underwent an initial psychiatric
assessment with Dr. David Villasenor. Id. at
299-303. Dr. Villasenor diagnosed Plaintiff with
“General Anxiety Disorder with agoraphobia and panic,
rule out anxiety due to a general medical condition,
methamphetamine dependence, in full remission.”
Id. He discussed the “three pillars” of
anxiety treatment with Plaintiff (psychopharmacology,
behavioral measures and psychotherapy), and indicated that
Plaintiff was agreeable to all three. Id. Dr.
Villasenor also prescribed Zoloft for Plaintiff. Id.
also received treatment from Gardner Health Center through
December, 2013. Relevant records from that facility show that
on July 19, 2012, Plaintiff reported worsening anxiety
symptoms, such that she could not go out of the house and
experienced panic in public areas. Id. at 367-69.
She also stated Klonopin was helpful with panic attacks,
which were occurring one to two times per week. Id.
Dr. Michelle Dinh referred Plaintiff for psychiatric
treatment. Id. On August 13, 2012, Plaintiff's
prescription for Zoloft was increased from 25 milligrams to
50 milligrams, and though she was checking her blood glucose
level four to six times per day, she was advised to check it
only once per day. Id. at 357-59.
began psychiatric treatment with Dr. Viet Le on August 30,
2012. Id. at 390-91. On that date, Dr. Le observed
that Plaintiff had “moderate anxiety and panic attack
symptoms, ” and Plaintiff's prescription for Zoloft
was increased to 100 miligrams. Id. Dr. Le also
prescribed BuSpar and Trazodone. Id. On September
27, 2012, Dr. Le reported that Plaintiff “continued to
struggle with panic attack episodes and agoraphobia
behavior.” Id. at 391.
November 30, 2012, Dr. Le reported that Plaintiff
“missed her last appointment because of lack of
transportation, complicated by panic attack symptom and
agoraphobic behavior.” Id. at 484. Plaintiff
continued to “struggle with panic attack
episodes.” Id. On May 9, 2013, and July 25,
2013, Dr. Le reported that Plaintiff had anxiety throughout
the day, and on October 24, 2013, he reported that Plaintiff
had “recurred symptoms of depressed mood and
anxiety.” Id. at 481-83. On November 21, 2013,
Dr. Le reported that Plaintiff “still struggled with
anxiety and panic attack symptoms.” Id. at
January 2, 2014, Dr. Le reported that Plaintiff's anxiety
symptoms persisted and were complicated by diabetes mellitus.
Id. at 480. In a Mental Medical Source Statement
completed that same date, Dr. Le noted that Plaintiff's
psychological conditions and symptoms included depression,
anxiety/panic attacks, sleep disturbance, problems
interacting with the public, difficulty with concentration,
and “OCD symptoms of increased checking of her finger
stick blood glucose . . . in stressful situation.”
Id. at 516-19. Dr. Le noted that Plaintiff could
remember locations and work-like procedures, and could
understand and remember short and simple instructions without
limitation. Id. She had a mild limitation in her
ability to carry out short and simple instructions, and
moderate limitations in several other areas of sustained
concentration and persistence, social interaction, and
functional limitation. Id. Plaintiff had a marked
limitation in her ability to understand, remember and carry
out detailed instructions, and her ability to accept
instructions and to respond appropriately to criticism from
supervisors. Id. Dr. Le concluded that
Plaintiff's limitations had lasted or were expected to
last twelve continuous months, was incapable of low stress
jobs, and would likely be absent from work more than four
days per month. Id.
attended a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation with Dr.
Maria Antoinette Acenas on June 11, 2013. Id. at
301-302. Dr. Acenas diagnosed Plaintiff with generalized
anxiety disorder, dysthymia and history of polysubstance
abuse. Id. She determined that Plaintiff was capable
of managing funds, has basic mathematical skills, can perform
simple and repetitive tasks, and can accept instructions from
supervisors. Id. Dr. Acenas also determined that,
because Plaintiff's depression was being appropriately
treated, she would be able to perform work on a consistent
basis, maintain regular attendance and finish a normal work
week. Id. Dr Acenas also found that Plaintiff could
“deal with the usual stress encountered in a
competitive workplace.” Id.
hearing before the ALJ, Plaintiff testified that she is
afraid of dying. Id. at 51. She has a valid
drivers' license but does not drive. Id. at 53.
She is able to bring her children to school, shop for
groceries, attend medical appointments, and attend church and
Bible study with assistance from family. Id. at 51,
56, 57. However, Plaintiff described panic attacks lasting
twenty to forty minutes and issues with incontinence and
regular hygiene. Id. at 55-56, 59.
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