Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wardell v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 12, 2019

EUNICE M. WARDELL, Plaintiff;
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          VANESSA L. KASSAB, DOROSHOW, PASQUALE, KRAWITZ & BHAYA, WILMINGTON DE, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF.

          DAVID C. WEISS, GREGG W. MARSANO, ERIC P. KRESSMAN, AND BRITTANY J. GIGLIOTTI, OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, PHILADELPHIA, PA, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Eunice Wardell appeals from the decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying her claim for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         Currently pending before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff and the Commissioner. (D.I. 12, 14). Plaintiff has filed an opening brief (D.I. 13), and the Commissioner has filed a combined opening and answering brief (D.I. 15). There has been no further briefing by the parties and Plaintiffs counsel confirmed a reply brief was not being filed. After reviewing the briefing and the administrative record, Plaintiffs motion is DENIED and the Commissioner's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on December 4, 2012, alleging disability beginning on November 30, 2011. (Tr.[1] 184-90). Plaintiff is insured for disability benefits through March 31, 2017. (Tr. 15).

         Plaintiffs application was initially denied on February 25, 2013, and was again denied on reconsideration on October 8, 2013. (Tr. 119-20, 137-38). On December 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. 157). Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, held on October 22, 2015, via video teleconferencing. (Tr. 32-82). On August 4, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiffs claim for DIB. (Tr. 17). On September 28, 2016, Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 4, 182-83). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review on April 20, 2018. (Tr. 1-5). Thus, the ALJ's decision denying DIB became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.955, 404.981; Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).

         On June 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking judicial review of the ALJ's decision. (D.I.I). On December 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed her motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 12). The Commissioner opposed Plaintiffs motion and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on January 4, 2019. (D.I. 14).

         B. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was 57 years old at the time of the alleged onset of her disability in November 2011, and 61 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 42). She is married and lives with her husband. (Tr. 202). Plaintiff has completed high school and has past work experience as a data entry clerk and program coordinator. (Tr. 204).

         1. Plaintiffs Medical History [2]

         a. Psychiatric Consultation with Dr. Rebecca Moore - June 2013

         The first record of potential mental impairment is from June 2013 when Plaintiff was hospitalized for a neurological event. At that time, Dr. Rebecca Moore noted that Plaintiff may have a conversion disorder, as Plaintiff stuttered only when discussing distressing events or undergoing stressful situations. (Tr. 469-71). Dr. Moore further noted Plaintiffs stress regarding her unemployment and that Plaintiff expressed demoralization at not being able to work. (Tr. 469). At this consultation, Dr. Moore assigned Plaintiff a Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") score of 55-65, indicating mild to moderate mental illness. (Tr. 471). Based on her evaluation, Dr. Moore "strongly encouraged" Plaintiff to seek outpatient psychotherapy. (Id.)

         b. Consultation with Dr. Brian Simon - September 2013

         On September 30, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a consultative exam with Dr. Brian Simon, a psychologist, as a result of the Social Security Administration's determination that more evidence was needed to evaluate Plaintiffs mental impairments. (Tr. 529-33). Dr. Simon diagnosed Plaintiff with (1) an adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct, acute and (2) conversion disorder with mixed presentation (provisional), as well as assigning Plaintiff a GAF of 54, indicating a moderate mental impairment. (Tr. 532). Dr. Simon made the following conclusions in the context of the competitive labor market: Plaintiff had (1) a mild impairment in understanding simple, primarily oral, instructions, (2) a moderate impairment in carrying out instructions under ordinary supervision, (3) a moderate impairment in sustaining work performance and attendance in a normal work setting, (4) a moderately severe impairment in coping with the pressures of ordinary work, and (5) a moderate impairment in performing routine, repetitive tasks under ordinary supervision. (Tr. 527).

         However, Dr. Simon's narrative evaluation also noted the following:

- Plaintiff "appear[ed] to be capable of making decisions, as well as exercising judgment, insight, and common sense at work." (Tr. 532).
- Plaintiff was "capable of interacting appropriately with others, performing simple tasks, and avoiding hazards at work." (Id.).
- "Her presentation did not suggest that [Plaintiff] has any problems maintaining concentration, focus, and attention at this time, and she should be able to understand, follow, and carry out simple instructions." (Id.).
- "[I]t appear[ed] that [Plaintiff] should be capable of managing any benefits that she is entitled to receive." (Id.).
"Her attention and concentration were fair, [] speech was coherent, normal in rate, low in volume, and was goal directed. She did not show signs of having any articulation problems." (Tr. 531). "Her memory was good for immediate and fair for short-term material." (Id.).
- Plaintiff was "unable to perform serial calculations without making any errors." (Id.).
- Plaintiff "may encounter some problems adapting to different circumstances and being able to persist for a normal ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.