United States District Court, C.D. California
KRISTIE E. JACOBSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
SUZANNE H. SEGAL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
E. Jacobson (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
seeking to overturn the decision of the Acting Commissioner
of Social Security (the “Commissioner” or
“Agency”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). The parties
consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge. (Dkt. Nos. 11-13). For the reasons stated below, the
Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.
January 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to
Title II of the Social Security Act alleging a disability
onset date of June 15, 2010. (AR 147-48). The Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's application initially and on
reconsideration. (AR 40-71). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested
a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which took place on January 12,
2016. (AR 82-83, 559-93). The ALJ issued a
decision on January 28, 2016, finding that Plaintiff was not
disabled because there were jobs that existed in significant
numbers in the national economy that she could have
performed. (AR 17-28). On March 28, 2017, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR 1-4). This
action followed on May 25, 2017.
was born on June 17, 1964. (AR 147). She was fifty-one (51)
years old when she appeared before the ALJ on January 12,
2016. (AR 559). Plaintiff has a high school education. (AR
163). She is divorced, but lives with her ex-husband. (AR
575-76). Plaintiff previously worked as a teacher's aide
and a telecommunications worker. (AR 163, 347). She alleges
disability due to: back injury, depression, anxiety, IBS,
neck pain, arm pain, and severe back pain. (AR 162).
testified that she is unable to work because of neck and back
pain, as well as residual pain and weakness in her left wrist
subsequent to a fractured wrist. (AR 566, 568, 571). Her pain
causes difficulty writing, driving, walking, standing, and
getting out of bed. (AR 567-71). She stated that she is
unable to lift more than a gallon of milk. (AR 572-73).
also testified to memory and concentration difficulties,
which are exacerbated by ongoing depression and anxiety. (AR
563-65). She is forgetful, lacks the ability to focus on a
television show, and has difficulty being around people. (AR
564-65, 573-75). Nevertheless, she acknowledged travelling to
visit her daughter in Idaho several times a year and to
Michigan to attend court hearings. (AR 577-83).
December 2011, Plaintiff complained of chronic anxiety and
insomnia. (AR 314). She was assessed with anxiety disorder
and insomnia and prescribed Hydroxyzine and Ambien. (AR 315).
February 16, 2013, Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital
after intentionally overdosing on her deceased
father-in-law's heart medications. (AR 278, 283, 290; see
Id. 408). She also tested positive for
methamphetamine. (AR 257). In the records, it was reported
that “[Plaintiff] reports history of ETOH abuse, with
DUI in 2010.” (AR 290). The diagnosis included
“acute alcoholic intoxication” and “acute
drug overdose.” (AR 283). In the consultation notes, it
was reported “[Patient] willing to establish mental
health services, although reporting she often travels out of
state and may not be able to establish services on weekly
basis.” (AR 290).
being discharged on February 25, Plaintiff complained of
continuing depression. (AR 290, 308). Other than signs of
sadness, a psychological examination was unremarkable. (AR
309). She was assessed with depressive disorder and anxiety
and prescribed Fluoxetine. (AR 309-10). In March 2013,
Plaintiff complained of depression but denied suicidal
ideations. (AR 336). She was assessed with adjustment
disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood and her
Fluoxetine dosage was increased. (AR 336-37). In May 2013,
Plaintiff was diagnosed with major depressive disorder,
recurrent and moderate, and assigned a Global Assessment of
Functioning (“GAF”) score of 48. Her Fluoxetine
dosage was increased. (AR 374).
23, 2013, Ana Maria Andia, M.D., performed a comprehensive
psychiatric evaluation at the request of the Agency. (AR
352-58). The source of the information for the evaluation was
Plaintiff, who Dr. Andia asserted was a “poor
historian.” (AR 352). Plaintiff's chief complaint
was depression. (AR 353). She described her symptoms as
crying spells, moodiness, irritability, decreased energy, and
anhedonia. (AR 353). Plaintiff asserted that her response to
treatment was fair to poor and that she is no longer in
treatment. (AR 353). She has been hospitalized twice, the
most recent in March 2013, after she attempted suicide by
overdosing. (AR 353). Plaintiff is currently taking Prozac
and Hydroxyzine. (AR 354). She is able to care for herself,
pay bills, and go out alone. (AR 355). She has difficulty
focusing attention and making decisions. (AR 355). Plaintiff
reported that she last worked in 2009 as an AT&T
telecommunications worker. (AR 347). Plaintiff denied alcohol
or substance abuse to the consultative doctor. (AR 357).
examination, Dr. Andia found Plaintiff's appearance,
attitude, behavior, thought processes, thought content,
intellectual function, affect, memory, insight, and judgment
were normal, intact, and unremarkable. (AR 355-57).
Plaintiff's mood was depressed and anxious, her speech
slow and monotonous, and her concentration moderately
limited. (AR 356-57). Dr. Andia diagnosed dysthymic disorder
and anxiety disorder and assigned a GAF score of
(AR 357). Dr. Andia opined that Plaintiff is able to
understand, remember, and carry out simple, one- or two-step
instructions and moderately limited in her ability to do
detailed and complex instructions. (AR 358). Dr. Andia also
opined that Plaintiff is moderately limited in her ability to
maintain concentration and attention, persistence, and pace.
2013, after Plaintiff complained that her depression was not
improving, her Fluoxetine dosage was increased. (AR 373). In
September 2013, Plaintiff complained of bouts of crying,
insomnia, fatigue, lack of motivation, irritability, anger,
and panic attacks. (AR 408). She was diagnosed with major
depressive disorder and assigned a GAF score of 45. (AR 408).
Individual and family therapy was recommended. (AR 411). In
October 2013, Plaintiff complained of mood swings. (AR 372).
In April 2014, Plaintiff reported benefiting from her therapy
and her medications. (AR 412). She was diagnosed with major
depressive disorder and assigned a GAF score of 59. (AR 412).
In August 2014, Plaintiff's mood disorder was
“stable.” (AR 521). In September 2015, Plaintiff
tested positive for methamphetamine. (AR 485).
State Agency Consultants
8, 2013, Kim Morris, Psy.D., a State Agency consultant,
reviewed the medical evidence and gave “large
weight” to Dr. Andia's assessment. (AR 46-47). Dr.
Morris found that Plaintiff has moderate difficulties in
maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace. (AR 47). She
opined that Plaintiff is moderately limited in understanding,
remembering, and carrying out detailed instructions;
maintaining attention and concentration for extended periods;
completing a normal workday and workweek without
interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and
performing at a consistent pace without an unreasonable
number and length of rest periods; and responding