United States District Court, D. Delaware
Harvey, Felton, Delaware; Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Kressman, Regional Counsel, Region III, and Annie
Kernicky, Assistant Deputy Regional Counsel, Office of the
Regional Chief, Social Security Administration, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the
District of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware; Heather
Benderson, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office
of the General Counsel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Attorneys
ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge
Tammy Harvey, who appears pro se, appeals the
decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner
of Social Security, denying her application for supplemental
security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of
the Social Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§
1381 -1383f. Jurisdiction exists pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). Presently pending before the Court are cross motions
for summary judgment filed by Harvey and the Commissioner.
(D.I. 13, 14). Briefing is complete.
filed for SSI benefits on October 9, 2013, alleging
disability as of October 19, 2010 due to paranoid
schizophrenia and other functional psychotic disorders and
substance addiction/dependence disorders (alcohol). (D.I.
11-5 at 2-8; D.I. 11-8 at 2-10). Her application was denied
on January 24, 2014, and upon reconsideration on April 2,
2014. (D.I. 11-5 at 2-21) Two administrative hearings were
held before an Administrative Law Judge, the first on June 1,
2016, and the second on September 19, 2016. (D.I. 11-3 at
2-85). Testimony was provided by Harvey, vocational expert
Victor Alberigi, and Harvey's friend Mark
Turulski. The ALJ issued a decision on October 28,
2016, finding that Harvey was not disabled. (D.I. 11-2 at
17-33). She sought review by the Appeals Council, submitted
additional evidence, and her request was denied on July 26,
2017, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Id. at 2-5). On September 5, 2017,
Harvey filed this action seeking review of the final
decision. (D.I. 1).
was born in 1973 and was 43 years old at the time of the
ALJ's decision (D.I. 11-2 at 27). She completed 10th
grade and has no past relevant work experience. (D.I. 11-3 at
27-28). She may have a GED. (Id. at 28). Harvey
testified that, for the past three years, she had lived with
Turulski. (Id. at 6, 29). Harvey testified that she
has a driver's license but had not driven in quite
awhile. (Id.). Harvey has three children, two of
whom are grown. (Id.) She has no relationship with
her grown children and has not seen her youngest child for at
least three years. (Id. at 30, 36-37).
was asked why she thought she was unable to work, and she
replied, "[w]ell, it's not that I don't think I
can work. I just have, sometimes, trouble with
transportation." (Id. at 33). When asked what
she did during the day, Harvey stated that she sometimes
cooks breakfast, does crossword puzzles, plays Solitaire,
watches a lot of television, and if someone asks her to do
something, she will. (Id. at 36).
hearing Harvey testified that she was still drinking alcohol.
She drinks at least a 12-pack every day, and drinks it
"like it was tea." (Id. at 8, 41). Harvey
could not remember a period in the past year when she was
sober, without having had anything to drink. (Id. at
44). She testified that she is seen by a physician who helps
her with her schizoaffective disorder but is not sure how the
disorder affects her. (Id. at 37-38). She takes
medication that helps her sleep. (Id. at 37). Harvey
believes her bipolar disorder cause her to awaken at odd
times during the night. (Id. at 38-39). She
testified that post-traumatic stress disorder means she is
stressed out or depressed. (Id. at 39).
testified that Harvey used alcohol to self-medicate and had
not been drinking as regularly since she had been placed on
Latuda. (Id. at 58). Turulski testified
that Harvey's last period of sobriety was "last
summer when she went about three months." (Id.
at 58-59). Harvey described the difference when Harvey takes
Latuda as, "before the Latuda, she would wake up
miserable, maybe because it was because of the lack of sleep.
And since Latuda, she really doesn't wake up miserable,
most of the time. Every once in a while, - nobody's
perfect. She'll have a bad day . . . . I know that
she's improved ever since the Latuda." (Id.
Plaintiffs Medical History, Condition, and Treatment
February 12, 2012, Harvey presented to the emergency
department for a psychiatric evaluation after police found
her found walking in the road, far from her house, and she
had been hit by a car. (D.I. 11-12 at 36). Harvey appeared
intoxicated and was unable to give a reliable history.
(Id.) She acknowledged that she drank eight cans of
beer per day. (Id. at 35). Diagnoses included
depressive disorder, alcohol intoxication, and adjustment
disorder with disturbance of conduct. (Id. at 38).
October 6, 2012, Harvey was taken to the emergency room by
police after she was found on the porch of a former
acquaintance with multiple bruises in various stages of
healing. (Id. at 13). Harvey stated that "she
got the bruises because she 'exercises too much and I run
into things.'" (Id.). She admitted to
drinking six beers that day and that she typically drank six
beers daily. (Id.).
March 18, 2013, Harvey presented to the emergency room for
evaluation of altered mental status. (Id. as 2-4).
She was confused, disoriented, and unable to give a reliable
history. (Id. at 2). Harvey's mother indicated
that Harvey had stopped taking her medication for
schizophrenia. (Id.). Harvey admitted to
"chewing bath beads" and drinking alcohol that day.
(Id.). Discharge summary was alcohol-induced
psychosis, psychotic disorder, alcohol intoxication, altered
mental status, reported bath salts intoxication, and alcohol
intoxication delirium. (Id. at 6). Harvey was
discharged, to be transferred to a psychiatric facility to be
April 30, 2013, Harvey was admitted to Dover Behavioral
Health Systems ("DBH"). (D.I. 11-10 at 5). She was
admitted with complaints of depressed mood, disorganized
thoughts, confusion, an attempt to walk into traffic, and
non-compliance with medication. (Id.). Harvey's
fiance reported that she goes to her neighbor's house to
drink. (Id.). Diagnoses included psychosis, not
otherwise specified; rule out schizophrenia, disorganized
type; and a GAF of 25. (Id. at 8-9). When Harvey was
discharged on May 3, 2013, her GAF was 60. (Id. at
6, 2013, Harvey was brought by ambulance to the emergency
room. (D.I. 11-11 at 64). She stated that she did not know
who called the ambulance, and she wanted to go to DBH for
detox and psychiatric evaluation. (Id.). She had
been arguing with her boyfriend, admitted to drinking four
beers, and appeared intoxicated. (Id.) She indicated
that she drank a twelve pack per day until she was at DBH the
prior week. (Id.). Harvey was transferred to
Psychiatric Facility Recovery Center of Delaware.
(Id. at 70).
11, 2013, Harvey was brought to the emergency room by the
police department for intoxication and possible pills
ingestion and psychiatric evaluation. (D.I. 11-11 at 33). She
stated she had four beers that day and was unable to give an
adequate history. (Id. at 33). Bruising was noted on
her back, but Harvey denied knowing how she got the bruising.
(Id. at 35). Harvey was triaged and taken to the
main emergency department where she was checked on frequently
and remained for several hours. (Id. at 34-35).
Harvey left the emergency room without medical approval.
(Id. at 35). The discharge diagnosis was acute
alcohol intoxication. (Id. at 41).
21, 2013, Harvey was brought to the emergency room by the
police for a psychiatric evaluation. (Id. at 25).
She complained of "having a lot of confusion,"
being compliant with medications, admitted to drinking that
day, and appeared intoxicated. (Id.). Diagnoses
included alcohol intoxication, cannabis abuse, history of
depression, non-compliance with medication regimen,
alcoholism, and psychotic disorder. (Id. at 29).
Harvey was transferred to Psychiatric Facility Recovery
Center of Delaware. (Id.)
August 23, 2013, Harvey was taken to the emergency room by
the police for a psych evaluation after she was found
intoxicated in public. (D.I. 11-10 at 13). She admitting to
drinking a six pack of beer that day and appeared obviously
intoxicated. (Id.). Discharge diagnoses included
schizophrenia; alcoholism; alcohol intoxication; and thought
disorder due to alcoholism, not schizophrenia. (Id.
at 15-16). The discharging physician noted that Harvey was
"off her meds" and "being enabled by another
guy with her when drinking." (Id. at 15). The
note continued that she did not have a history of
schizophrenia and the current incident clearly indicated a
thought disorder due to alcohol. (Id.).
was admitted to Bayhealth Medical Center on August 27, 2013,
for agitation and altered mental status. (D.I. 11-11 at 15).
She was found trespassing on someone else's property,
intoxicated, and agitated. (Id.). The diagnosis was
alcohol intoxication with a past history of schizophrenia.
next day, Janis Chester, M.D., evaluated Harvey regarding
alcoholism and schizophrenia. (Id. at 18). Dr.
Chester noted that Harvey had been treated for polysubstance
dependence, primarily alcohol, for "some years" and
had been addicted to alcohol since age 21. (Id.).
Dr. Chester noted that Harvey had been brought in by the
police due to public intoxication on a least two occasions,
including the current admission. (Id.). Harvey had a
history of suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts while
intoxicated, and she denied signs or symptoms suggestive of
depression, mania, or psychosis. (Id.) Dr. Chester
stated that Harvey trivialized the factors leading up to the
current admission, was not interested in a referral for any
type of formal treatment and was not interested in accepting
the telephone number for Alcoholics Anonymous.
(Id.). The diagnostic impression was alcohol
dependence and no history of schizophrenia. (Id. at
Keyes, Ph.D., performed a consultative psychological
evaluation on March 25, 2014. (D.I. 11-12 at 50). Harvey
reported that she lived with her boyfriend/fiance and he had
driven her to the evaluation. (Id.). She stated that
she was independent in self-care skills and able to perform
routine household/domestic chores and tasks. (Id. at
provided a long history of alcohol abuse and reported
drinking more than six beers a day. (Id. at 51). She
admitted to drinking two beers that morning before her 9:00
a.m. appointment. (Id.). She provided a history of
psychiatric hospitalizations, with her last hospitalization
in April 2013 at DBH. (Id. at 50-51). Diagnoses