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Perry v. Astrue

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 30, 2014

MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.


TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This is an action for judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") (the "Commissioner") denying Michael Perry's ("Plaintiff") application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). Plaintiff filed a motion seeking an order reversing the decision of the Commissioner (Docket No. 20), and the Commissioner filed a cross-motion seeking an order affirming the decision of the Commissioner (Docket No. 24). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied, and the Commissioner's motion is granted.

Procedural History

Plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") benefits on June 15, 2009, claiming he became a disabled individual as of June 30, 2008. The Social Security Administration ("SSA") denied this application on December 31, 2009, and again upon reconsideration on April 30, 2010. Plaintiff filed a timely Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge on May 12, 2010. The requested hearing was held in Boston, Massachusetts on April 1, 2011 before the Honorable Rebekah Ross. Plaintiff's was denied and the decision issued on April 29, 2011. The case was transferred from the Decision Review Board to the Appeals Council, who denied the request for review. After the Plaintiff had exhausted all administrative reviews, a civil action was commenced per 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g).


Personal and Employment History

Plaintiff was born in Massachusetts in 1986, making him 22 years old on his age of alleged onset of disability, June 30, 2008. Plaintiff received an IEP during his school years for a learning disability, and because of his inability to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System ("MCAS") test, required testing for all public school students in Massachusetts, Plaintiff received a special certificate of attainment in lieu of a high school diploma at the culmination of his schooling. Plaintiff currently resides in Southboro, Massachusetts with his mother and step-father.

The Plaintiff held various short-term jobs following high school, including retail positions at Guitar Center, which he remained at for six months, and Spencer Gifts, and seasonal employment over the course of several years at several Halloween specialty stores.

Medical History

From January 6, 2006 through August 22, 2006, Plaintiff sought treatment at the Boston Medical Center (R. 134-145). Plaintiff complained of a tremor in both hands, which occurred during activities, such as writing or using tools (R. 136). He denied a tremor at rest (R. 136). Upon physical examination, Plaintiff was found to have a postural tremor in both the right and left hand (R. 138), but he denied joint pain, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, stiffness, or arthritis (R. 137, 143). Plaintiff was also noted to have a history of bipolar disorder and ADHD (R. 136), but no abnormalities were found upon mental status exam (R. 137).

Beginning on April 13, 2005, Plaintiff visited the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. Jefferson Prince (R. 146-172, 349-368). Mental status exams revealed that Plaintiff was alert and oriented times three, with intact cognition, a logical thought process, and appropriate thought content (R. 147-148, 150). He showed no signs or symptoms of depression, mania, or psychosis (R. 147, 150-152). Throughout his treatment, Dr. Prince reported that Plaintiff had a stable mood (R. 147-148, 152-154); was "feeling pretty upbeat" (R. 147); and was doing well (R. 148, 150-154). Plaintiff informed Dr. Prince that he noticed a difference with medication (R. 147).

From June 9, 2010 through November 9, 2010, Plaintiff sought therapy at SMOC Behavioral Center (R. 304-315). Plaintiff was found to have mood swings (R. 311), but upon mental status exam, Plaintiff's thought content, thought process, intellectual functioning, orientation, memory, insight, and judgment were within normal limits (R. 310). He was assigned a Global Assessment Functioning ("GAF") score of 51 (R. 312).[1]

In January 2011, Marcos Rosenbaum, MSW, Plaintiff's therapist, completed a medical report for purposes of Plaintiff's application for Massachusetts state disability benefits, which was co-signed by Dr. Prince (R. 316-326). In the report, it was noted that Plaintiff had difficulties with concentration and in following directions (R. 324). The report further noted that Plaintiff indicated that he had a history of being unable to sustain a job (R. 322). In a supplemental report, Mr. Rosenbaum stated that Plaintiff had lost jobs on more than one occasion because he had trouble retaining assignments and following orders, and was easily distracted (R. 334). Mr. Rosenbaum also noted that Plaintiff's mental health problems made it difficult for him to remember things or go to the doctor on his own, but he noted no problems in his ability to sit, stand, walk, bend, reach, and lift (R. 332).

On December 30, 2009, Dr. Arlene Reed-Delaney, a non-examining state agency medical consultant, completed a Psychiatric Review Technique Form and a mental RFC assessment based on a review of the record (R. 174-191). Dr. Reed-Delaney noted that Plaintiff had bipolar disorder and a history of ADHD (R. 176, 179, 181). According to Dr. Reed-Delaney, Plaintiff had no limitations with respect to activities of daily living; was mildly limited in maintaining social functioning; was moderately limited in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and had no episodes of decompensation (R. 188). Dr. Reed-Delaney opined that Plaintiff was able to manage simple tasks; concentrate for two-hour periods within a 40-hour work week; manage appropriate, superficial ...

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