United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
PAMELA S. PORTER, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.
Plaintiff Pamela Porter seeks review of the Administrative Law Judge's decision denying her application for Social Security benefits. For the following reasons, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") is reversed and the case is remanded for reconsideration.
A. Medical History
Porter claims disability based primarily on anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, knee problems, and breathing problems. Her alleged onset date is February 3, 2012.
In August 2009, Porter was diagnosed with bronchitis with wheezing. She was eventually admitted to the hospital where she was treated with Cymbalta and a CPAP machine. After three days in the hospital, she was discharged with directions to remain on oxygen, Xanax, Cymbalta, Lisinopril/HCTZ, Prednisone taper, Advair, and Singulair. She was diagnosed with asthma exacerbation, tobacco abuse, obesity, hypertension, and depression.
In June 2010, Porter met with Dr. Navato, her treating psychiatrist. She stated that she was only sleeping about three hours per night and had experienced a series of stressors. She expressed feelings of not wanting to live and her doctor noted that she was more anxious and upset. Her Cymbalta was increased and Lyrica, Lunesta, and Restoril were prescribed. By January 2011, Porter reported feeling hopeful and having a stable mood. In May 2011, Porter reported that she was not sleeping well and felt that her medications were not working as well. She stated that she was in pain all the time.
In October 2011, Porter was evaluated in the emergency department. She stated that she had suffered from back and leg pain for the last five days and fell out of bed the previous night. She was diagnosed with sciatica. She returned to the emergency department in December with vomiting and diarrhea.
In January 2012 Porter again met with Dr. Navato. She stated that she was still battling depression and reported sleep disturbance, low motivation, and low mood. She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder.
Porter returned to the emergency department in February 2012 because she had injured her right shoulder at work trying to lift fifty pound bags of cat litter. She was diagnosed with right shoulder strain and was prescribed Zanaflex and Vicodin.
Throughout March 2012 Porter saw various physicians complaining of shortness of breath, intermittent fever, and chills. She refused BiPAP and intermittently took off her oxygen. During one hospital visit she was found to have pneumonia. After her diagnosis, one of Porter's doctors learned that she may not have been getting the amount of oxygen she needed. The doctor diagnosed exacerbation of COPD, pulmonary infiltrates, hilar and mediastinal adenopathy, oropharyngeal thrush, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea. The steroids prescribed Porter for the pneumonia resulted in hyperglycemia.
Porter's mental state was unchanged through August 2012. She also reported sharp lumbar pain that was gradually getting worse. She was diagnosed with tobacco use disorder, hypertension, lumbago, chronic airway obstruction, obesity, and esophageal reflux. Her cholesterol was very elevated. She continued to experience shoulder pain from her injury.
In September 2012, Porter reported to Dr. Navato that she enjoyed her summer and spent time reading. However, by October she reported that she was not journaling because she was afraid someone would find the journal and use the information against her. That same month she had a negative chest x-ray.
In January 2013, Dr. Navato examined Porter, which revealed a smoker's cough, normal gait, mildly depressed mood, good attention and concentration, normal memory, and good judgment. In February she was diagnosed with COPD exacerbation, morbid obesity, and sleep apnea. She was prescribed Cipro and Prednisone. In March she was examined by Dr. Bhat in the Sleep Clinic and had her "very severe obstructive sleep apnea" ...