United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
ORDER AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER (DKT. NOS.
11 AND 16)
an action for judicial review of a final decision by the
acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner"), regarding an individual's
entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance
("SSDI") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3) (referring to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)). Michelle
Marie Maillet ("Plaintiff") asserts the
Commissioner's decision denying her SSDI - memorialized
in a June 16, 2014 decision of an administrative law judge
("ALJ") - is in error. The parties have filed
cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings.
reasons set forth below, the court will grant Defendant's
Motion for Order Affirming the Decision of the Commissioner
(Dkt. 16) and deny Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings (Dkt. 11).
March 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed for SSDI benefits alleging
disability due to depression, anxiety, and bipolar/unipolar
mania with a disability onset date of April 7, 2011.
(Administrative Record ("AR") 92, 172-78, 203.)
After the Commissioner denied her application initially and
on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
ALJ. (Id. at 108-110, 112-14.) The ALJ found that
Plaintiff was insured through December 31, 2015, and reviewed
the record to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled while
insured. (Id. at 24.)
Portions of Plaintiff's Medical History Credited by
April 8, 2011, Plaintiff stopped working and saw her primary
care physician because of an anxiety attack she experienced
after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. (Id. at
46.) Plaintiff's primary care physician referred her to
Linda Lapour, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.
(Id.) Ms. Lapour treated Plaintiff for a year,
prescribing various medications. (Id.)
April 30, 2012, Plaintiff referred herself to Clinical and
Support Options reporting mood swings, high anxiety, racing
thoughts, and difficulty falling asleep. (Id. at 46,
306.) Clinical and Support Options' Barbara Doyle, LMHC,
diagnosed Plaintiff with bipolar, mixed, moderate, and
obsessive compulsive disorder ("OCD").
(Id. at 314.) Plaintiff's appearance,
perception, thought process, orientation, insight and
judgment were within normal limits. (Id. at 310.)
Ms. Doyle concluded that Plaintiff was markedly limited, but
assigned Plaintiff a GAF score of 58, which denotes moderate
limitations. (Id. at 314.)
15, 2012, Shawn Channell, Ph.D., ABPP, evaluated Plaintiff
upon the request of the Social Security Administration
("SSA"). (Id. at 317.) Dr. Channell
diagnosed Plaintiff with generalized anxiety disorder, panic
disorder with agoraphobia, and OCD. (Id. at 321.)
During this examination, "[Plaintiffs] grooming and
dress were appropriate, " "her participation was
cooperative and attentive, " and her "speech was
normal in volume, rate, and tone." (Id. at
320.) Nonetheless, Dr. Channell assigned Plaintiff a GAF
score of 45, denoting severe limitations. (Id. at
16, 2012, the SSA requested state consultants Jon Perlman,
Ed.D, and Belen Gannon consider whether Plaintiff was
disabled. (AR at 83.) They reviewed Plaintiffs record from
March 30, 2012 to May 15, 2012 and found her not disabled
because she "continue[d] to engage in routine day to day
behaviors such as taking care of home and family."
(Id. at 86.)
7, 2012, Plaintiff attended her first appointment with the
Clinical and Support Options' psychiatrist Thomas Weiss,
M.D. Dr. Weiss diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, OCD, and
attention deficit disorder. (Id. at 443.) Dr. Weiss
assigned her a GAF score of 65, denoting mild limitations.
12, 2012, Plaintiff was admitted to the partial
hospitalization program at Baystate Franklin Medical Center
for treatment of depression. (Id. at 339.) The
examining source described Plaintiff as "a pleasant and
cooperative young woman, casually dressed and groomed."
(Id. at 349.) Plaintiffs "[s]peech [was]
normally paced and goal directed"; "her cognitive
exam [was] intact." (Id.) The examining source
found "[n]o psychotic thought process or content, no
hallucinations in any sphere." (Id.) By the end
of the year, Ms. Doyle had assigned Plaintiff GAF scores 53
and 61, and Dr. Weiss's reported that medication had
stabilized Plaintiffs symptoms and that Plaintiff was
socially appropriate. (Id. at 99, 445)
January of 2013, the SSA requested state consultants Caroline
Cole, Psy. D., and Patrice Bonkowski to consider whether
Plaintiff was disabled. They reviewed Plaintiffs treatment
record from March 30, 2012, to November 26, 2012, and found
her not disabled because she was helping with chores and
childcare, and her symptoms were improving. (Id. at
August of 2013, the SSA requested Ms. Doyle and Dr. Weiss
compile a treating sources' functional assessment.
(Id. at 438-44.) In their assessment, Ms. Doyle and
Dr. Weiss indicated that Plaintiff was markedly limited in a
number of mental functioning areas. (Id. at 442.)
The assessment also noted that Plaintiff's GAF score was
65-indicating mild limitation, up from a score of 53 that Ms.
Doyle assigned Plaintiff in 2012. (Id. at 443.) In
January of 2014, Dr. Weiss composed another report, in which
he repeated his August of 2013 assessment and concluded that
Plaintiff cannot maintain competitive employment.
(Id. at 453.)
Hearing in ...