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Linda G. Adams v. Michael J. Astrue

January 13, 2011

LINDA G. ADAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nanette K. Laughrey United States District Judge

ORDER Before the Court is Plaintiff Linda Adams's Social Security Complaint [Doc. # 3] brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c) to review a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Because the Court finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") was based on substantial evidence, the Court denies Plaintiff's Complaint.

I. Background*fn1

Adams filed her applications for disability insurance and supplemental security insurance benefits on May 24, 2007, alleging that she became disabled beginning October 13, 2005 at the age of 35. She lives with her teenage son. Adams, who has a high school degree, has past relevant work as a waitress and as a housekeeper.

In 1995, she went to work at Silk Road restaurant and worked there five days a week until 2002. In 2002, she went to work at Hong Kong City after Silk Road was sold. She worked at Hong Kong City until going to work at Century Buffet in the summer of 2006. After leaving Century Buffet some time in 2007, she went to work at Bumsteads restaurant. During the summer of 2007, she also cleaned some houses for extra income. She continued to work at Bumsteads part-time between 25-30 hours a week at the time of the hearing.

Adams testified that her part-time job at Bumsteads aggravated her mental problems. Specifically, she stated that the stress of talking to customers caused her to become short of breath, and forced her to either go into the bathroom to calm herself or leave work early on several occasions. Adams stated that she continues to work because she must support her son.

A. Medical Background

At a psychiatric evaluation at Burrell Behavioral Health ("BBH") in December 2005, with Virginia Jones, N.P., M.H.N.P., and James Neal, M.D., Adams reported that she had been out of work for two months after her employer went out of business. She was not taking her medication regularly. Adams was assessed with major depression, panic disorder, and a Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") score of 50, indicating serious symptoms or serious impairment in social or occupational functioning.

At a March 10, 2006 appointment at BBH, Adams was noted to be medication noncompliant. It was suspected that she was overusing Xanax, which was making her forgetful. At an April 17, 2006 counseling appointment, Adams reported working for about a month and was looking for a second job.

Two months later, Adams reported doing "pretty good" with no panic attacks and better sleep. [Tr. 257.] She was described as "much improved." Id. Her GAF was improved to 55, indicating moderate symptoms or moderate difficulty in social or occupational functioning.

At her next appointment in October 2006, Adams was not feeling well due to four abscessed teeth. She had failed to refill one of her medications without explanation.

In December 2006, Adams was depressed about continued dental problems. She had again run out of medication several weeks earlier. Adams planned on getting another job once she started to feel better.

At her next appointment in March 2007, Adams reported a one-month history of depression and daily panic attacks. She was experiencing a number of family stressors, and she was moving out of town. Adams had elected to stop taking one medication on her own, and was using another medication that was given to her by a friend. She was given medication samples and met with BBH staff to get signed up for a prescription assistance program to receive low cost prescriptions.

Adams underwent a psychological assessment with David J. Lutz, Ph.D., on August 16, 2007. After examination, Dr. Lutz opined that Adams was capable of understanding and remembering simple to moderately complex instructions, and possibly even complex instructions. Adams was able to sustain concentration and persistence on simple and moderately complex tasks and possibly some complex tasks. Dr. Lutz also indicated that Adams seemed able to interact in at least moderately demanding social situations and was able to adapt to her environment. He assessed a GAF score of 55.

At a November 14, 2007 appointment with Jonathan Boswell, a certified physician's assistant, Adams reported increasing anxiety and depression after she lost insurance coverage and stopped taking her psychiatric medication. An undated note from Mr. ...


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