United States District Court, D. Arizona
LESLIE A. BOWMAN, Magistrate Judge.
The plaintiff filed this action for review of the final decision of the Commissioner for Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 1)
The Magistrate Judge presides over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) having received the written consent of both parties. See FED.R.CIV.P. 73; (Doc. 18)
The court finds the final decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence and is free from legal error.
On December 7, 2009, Parr filed an application for disability insurance benefits. (Tr. 176) She filed an application for supplemental security income benefits on February 3, 2010. (Tr. 180) Parr alleged disability beginning on December 1, 2007, due to schizoaffective disorder with hallucinations; post traumatic stress disorder; and auditory, visual, and olfactory hallucinations. (Tr. 200) Her claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 106-113)
Parr requested review and appeared with counsel at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Larry Johnson on August 16, 2011. (Tr. 39) In his decision, dated October 26, 2011, the ALJ found Parr was not disabled. (Tr. 22-31) Parr appealed, but the Appeals Council denied review making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3); see Bass v. Social Sec. Admin., 872 F.2d 832, 833 (9th Cir. 1989).
Parr subsequently filed this action appealing the Commissioner's final decision. (Doc. 1) She argues the ALJ failed to consider the severity of her physical impairments at step 2 of the disability determination; failed to correctly determine her residual functional capacity (RFC); and improperly relied on the social security grids at step 5. (Doc. 21, p. 2)
Claimant's Work History and Medical History (Mental)
Parr had a difficult childhood. Her mother was neglectful and verbally abusive. (Tr. 432) Her father was physically abusive toward her mother. (Tr. 432) Her mother, brother, and sister have since been diagnosed with mental illness. (Tr. 432)
Parr lived in foster homes starting at age three. (Tr. 432) At age five she was adopted, but she experienced abuse by her adoptive family. (Tr. 390, 431) She was raped and stabbed at age 13 by someone outside the family, after which she received some inpatient psychiatric treatment. (Tr. 432) She was hospitalized a second time at age 16 after a suicide attempt. (Tr. 432)
Parr attended school through the 10th grade and earned a GED. (Tr. 432) Between January of 2001 and April of 2003, Parr worked part-time as a student work-study assistant at a community college. (Tr. 201) After that, she worked as a hotel housekeeper, receptionist, secretary, substitute teacher, tax preparer, and telemarketer. (Tr. 201) She did not remain very long at any of these positions because she suffered from panic attacks and hallucinations. (Tr. 41)
In 2009, at the age of 30, Parr was incarcerated at the Pima County Adult Detention Center having been caught pawning her roommate's jewelry. (Tr. 432) There she was diagnosed with depression and post traumatic stress disorder and prescribed Celexa, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft. (Tr. 340-41) Since that time, Parr has continued with psychiatric treatment. (Tr. 432) Her current prescriptions include Risperdal, Trazodone, Doxepin, Prazosin, Zoloft, and Lorazepam. (Tr. 432) She reports her hallucinations are quieter, her mood is more stable, she sleeps better, and her panic attacks are fewer. (Tr. 432); (Tr. 41)
The record contains treatment notes from CODAC Behavioral Health Services, Inc. and a "core assessment" conducted in December of 2009. (Tr. 381-410) Parr's diagnosis was given as schizoaffective DS, posttraumatic stress DIS, R/O schizophrenia, paranoid type. (Tr. 397)
In April of 2010, Parr was evaluated by Noelle Rohen, Ph.D., for the state disability determination service. (Tr. 430-435) Rohen gave the following diagnostic impression: "1. Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, 2. Posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic, with panic attacks; 3. Rule out obsessive-compulsive disorder." Id. She stated, "Ms. Parr presents with chronic history of hallucinations occurring regardless of mood state or severity." Id. "Psychiatric conditions are expected to be chronic with guarded prognosis and to impact her ability to work...." Id. Nevertheless, she found no evidence of that Parr had problems with social interaction or limitations in the areas of concentration or persistence in spite of Parr's claims to the contrary. (Tr. 28)
In May of 2011, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner B. Newhouse completed a Mental Residual Functional Capacity assessment. (Tr. 712-13) Newhouse rated Parr's capacity for work-related mental tasks as markedly limited in twelve out of twenty mental assessment areas. Id. She opined that Parr would be unable to work more than five days per month due to mental illness. Id.
In August of 2011, Parr appeared with counsel at a hearing before ALJ Larry Johnson. (Tr. 39) Parr explained she had trouble in the past keeping a job due to her panic attacks and hallucinations. (Tr. 41) Medication, however, is helping to reduce those symptoms. (Tr. 41)
In September of 2011, Edward Jasinski, Ph.D., examined the records and completed a Medical Source Statement of Ability to do Work-Related Activities (Mental) evaluation form. (Tr. 786-94) Based on Rohen's evaluation, Jasinski concluded Parr is mildly impaired in her "ability to make judgments on simple work-related decisions, " "understand and remember complex instructions, ...