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Jensen v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

March 5, 2018

PAUL JENSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Dee Benson District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Dustin B. Pead United States Magistrate Judge

         This case was referred to the court under 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(B). (ECF No. 24). Currently pending before the court is Plaintiff Paul Jensen's appeal of the Commissioner of Social Security's decision denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income. Having considered the parties' briefs, the administrative record, and the relevant law, this court RECOMMENDS that the District Court AFFIRM the Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff alleges a disability onset date of March 22, 2011. (Tr. 231). Plaintiff's application for benefits was denied initially on July 20, 2011, and upon reconsideration on October 26, 2011. (Tr. 130, 138). Plaintiff sought a hearing before an ALJ, which took place on March 12, 2013. (Tr. 19). On March 27, 2013, ALJ Robin L. Henrie issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 12-38). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on October 6, 2014, making ALJ Henrie's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born December 16, 1994. (Tr. 110). He applied for benefits at sixteen-years old and turned eighteen a few months before the administrative hearing before the ALJ. (See Tr. 12). Plaintiff has no work history and alleges disability based on depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), mood disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). (Tr. 241, 268).

         The medical records suggest Plaintiff had a long history of childhood mental health issues, including diagnoses of depression and anxiety. (E.g., Tr. 429, 430, 481, 486, 491). Plaintiff made several visits to emergency rooms as early as age thirteen, and received inpatient mental health treatment. (Tr. 381, 479, 486-89). Plaintiff responded well to certain instances of medication and counseling. (Tr. 433, 470). Plaintiff and his mother testified about his various ailments and difficulties in school and daily life. (Tr. 53-104). They both also testified about an incident in which Plaintiff became violent resulting in a police response and ultimately led to Plaintiff being tased and arrested. (Tr. 80-83, 98).

         Plaintiff also began abusing alcohol at age ten and abusing marijuana at age twelve. (Tr. 487). Plaintiff's mother testified he abused marijuana daily, including on the date of the hearing before the ALJ. (Tr. 75). Plaintiff confirmed his daily marijuana use. (Tr. 91). Plaintiff also admitted abusing cocaine and mushrooms as a minor. (Tr. 97).

         Summary of Material Medical opinions

         Various treating physicians support Plaintiff's claims regarding mood disorder, PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, (Tr. 409-12, 468-69, 481-84). Plaintiff's treating physicians recommended a number of accommodations to benefit Plaintiff at school. (Tr. 467, 469).

         State Agency physician Alice Lingen reviewed Plaintiff's medical records. (See Tr. 115). Dr. Lingen concluded Plaintiff's ADHD was severe, but did not meet, medically equal, or functionally equal the ADHD Listing 112.11. (Tr. 115-16).

         State Agency physician Melvin Sawyer independently reviewed Plaintiff's medical records. (Tr. 125). Similar to Dr. Lingen, Dr. Sawyer concluded Plaintiff's ADHD was severe, but did not meet, medically equal, or functionally equal the ADHD Listing 112.11. (Tr. 125-27).

         III. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT LAW

         Plaintiff was under the age of eighteen when he filed his application for benefits and attained age eighteen before the date of the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the ALJ considered whether Plaintiff was disabled while he was a minor and an adult.

         a. Standard ...


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