United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tina Proctor appeals the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying her application for
supplemental security income. The decision is affirmed.
was born in 1971, completed the eleventh grade, and obtained
a G.E.D. She has worked as a cashier and a nurse's aide.
She was struck by a car in September 2011 and spent a month
in the hospital. At the time of filing her application for
benefits, Proctor alleged that she became disabled on
September 1, 2011. However, at the hearing before the
Administrative Law Judge, Proctor, through her attorney,
amended the alleged date of onset to January 21, 2014.
denied Proctor's application on December 4, 2015. The
Appeals Council denied her request for review on November 29,
2016. Proctor's appeal to this Court concerns mental
suffered several fractures and traumatic brain injury after
being struck by a car in September 2011. She showed
“mild” impairments in cognition and behavior when
she began rehabilitation. Tr. 419. At the time of discharge
in October 2011, she had met all of her rehabilitation goals
with respect to the TBI. Tr. 452. She could follow multi-step
and nonsequential instructions, solve simple and complex
problems, track basic and complex conversation, and read
multi-paragraph text without assistance. Tr. 452-53. She had
some deficit in attention to detail in reading, “as she
gets off topic.” Tr. 453. She had decreased verbal
organization and was verbose at times, and had deficits in
terminating conversations and getting off topic. Tr. 454-55.
She was “Not impaired” in the areas of short- or
long-term memory, numerical reasoning, situational problem
solving, awareness of problems, goal setting, initiation,
planning, or carry over. Tr. 455. She was
“Impaired” in attention/concentration (described
as “mild-self distracted”), abstract reasoning
(described as “mild for multi-component
situations”), and organization, self-monitoring and
time management (all described as “mild”).
March 2013 through December 2013, Proctor saw Samuel Fadare,
M.D., a psychiatrist, a total of eight times, or about once a
month. Tr. 205-230. She reported anxiety, depression, and
feelings of anger. Throughout the year, Dr. Fadare prescribed
Remeron, Paxil, Viibryd, or Seroquel. In September and
November 2013, Proctor reported stable symptoms on her
medication, and said she felt happier. In December 2013, she
reported anxiety and feelings of anger in dealing with her
teenaged children, and the doctor wrote that Proctor needed
“to see a therapist to help with” her children.
Tr. 205. The results of her mental status exam were normal,
except for “some problems with short term
memory.” Tr. 208. Dr. Fadare renewed Proctor's
Seroquel. Dr. Fadare never ordered in-patient treatment and
Proctor was never hospitalized for mental-health related
issues from March 2013 through December 2013.
March 2014 through July 2015, Proctor saw Dr. Fadare a total
of six times, or about once every three months. At the
visits, Proctor was alert, oriented, calm, and cheerful. Tr.
270, 277-78, 285-86, 293-94, 301-02, and 310. She had normal
psychomotor activity, an unremarkable appearance,
unremarkable speech, logical flow of thought, unremarkable
thought processes, normal intellect, good insight, intact
judgment, and no delusions or hallucinations. Tr. 269-70,
277-78, 285-86, 293-94, 301- 02, and 310. She was not
suicidal or threating to others. Tr. 270, 277-78, 285-86,
293-94, 301-02, and 310. Her mental status exam showed
“some problems with short term memory” in March
2014, June 2014, October 2014, January 2015, April 2015, and
July 2015. Tr.270, 278, 286, 294, 302, and 310. Except for
the March 2014 visit, however, Dr. Fadare recorded
“Memory intact” on every exam. Tr. 270, 278, 286,
294, 302. The only medication that he prescribed from March
2014 through July 2015 was Seroquel, although he decreased
the dosage in January 2015. Tr. 286. In October 2014, the
doctor found that Proctor's symptoms were responding to
the antidepressant medication, Tr. 296, and made the same
finding in April 2015, Tr. 275. Dr. Fadare never ordered
in-patient treatment during that time period, nor was Proctor
hospitalized for mental-health related issues.
did complain in March 2014 of feelings of anger toward a
former friend who had assaulted her, and Dr. Fadare suggested
she see a therapist. Tr. 307. In June 2014, she told Dr.
Fadare that she felt anxious, and had difficulty about every
other day in controlling her anger with her children. Tr.
304. In October 2014, Proctor reported that she felt anxious
and was losing control of her anger with her children. Tr.
296. In January 2015, she reported a stable mood. Tr. 283. In
April 2015, she reported that she continued to experience
anxiety, anger, and mood swings a few times per week or
daily, and it was mostly her “children and
change” that set her off. Tr. 280. In July 2015, she
reported that she was doing well and her mood was stable. Tr.
was seen in the emergency room for migraine in May 2014. The
E.R. physician's exam findings included,
“Psychiatric: Cooperative, appropriate mood &
affect.” Tr. 508.
doctor's office visits in November 2014 and June 2015,
the providers recorded that Proctor's mood was euthymic.
Tr. 513 and 518.
December 2103 through September 2015, Proctor received
services from a social worker. Tr. 311-401. The social
worker's progress notes reflect that Proctor frequently
reported improvement in her mood, and with depression and
anxiety symptoms. Tr. 314, 322, 332, 336, 360, 364, 367, 370,
374, 377, and 384. Proctor also reported socializing with
friends, dating, and otherwise getting out of the house. Tr.
318, 332-33, 336, 353, 360, 364, 368, 375, 377, and 379.
Proctor reported having bad days and good days,
“especially when it comes to her children but she feels
she is doing better.” Tr. 316.
Proctor's adult function report and hearing
adult function report dated February 22, 2014, Tr. 142-149,
Proctor stated that she takes care of her children and pet,
without help. She has problems falling asleep and said she
remembered things better before the car accident. She
prepares meals and takes care of house and yard work without
help or reminders. She goes outside daily, can go out alone,
and shops weekly for groceries and personal items. She is
able to pay bills and handle her money. Her hobbies are
reading and puzzles, but she reads less than she used to and
does not work puzzles at all. She spends time with others
daily, whether in person or on the computer, talking,
watching television or listening to music. She has fewer
friends and dates less than before. She needs reminders to go
to doctor appointments and needs someone to accompany her.
She said that she has trouble with “memory,
concentration and understanding, due to car hitting
me.” Tr. 147. Where asked on the form whether she
finished what she started, she answered, “No.”
Id. Where asked how well she can follow spoken
instructions, she answered, “Good.” Id.
She gets along with authority figures, has never been fired
from a job because of problems getting along with others, is
“ok with changes, ” and has no unusual behaviors
or fears. Tr. 148.
testified at the hearing before the ALJ on November 16, 2015.
She has worked in the past as a cashier and as a nurse's
aide. She said that she could not work now because she does
not get along with others and has difficulty remembering
things. Tr. 37. She testified that she tries not to go
anywhere and to stay in the house to avoid dealing with
people, and has short-and long-term memory problems. Tr.
39-40. She said she could not “remember anything”
and had difficulty completing tasks. Tr. 40, 42. She also
said that she became angry every day and had crying episodes
three or four times per week. Tr. 40-42. She takes Seroquel
daily, and when asked whether she had any side effects,
testified, “No.” Tr. 38. She testified that she
had not worked since 2008 because she had been living with a
person who “was paying all [her] bills and taking care
of [her].” Tr. 43.
2014, Esteban Alejo, M.D., performed a consultative exam.
With respect to mental issues, Proctor reported symptoms of
difficulty sleeping, crying spells, changes to appetite, lack
of motivation, and sleeping all day. Tr. 256. Under
Neurological findings, Dr. Alejo wrote, “The claimant
was in a good mood. She had normal concentration, good eye
contact. Speech was fluent and she had a good memory.”
Tr. 258. Under Impressions, the doctor wrote, “Mental
issues: Patient in good mood, no emotional distress