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Mayhew v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

May 1, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


          Dustin B. Pead, United States Magistrate Judge

         The parties consented to this court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 636(c). (ECF No. 11). Currently pending before the court is Plaintiff Danielle Mayhew's (“Plaintiff”) appeal of the Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) decision denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Social Security Income. Having considered the parties' briefs, the administrative record, and the relevant law, this court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.


         Plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Social Security Income on October 9, 2012. (Tr. 248). Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 96, 120-22). On July 24, 2014, ALJ Kathleen H. Switzer issued her decision denying benefits to Plaintiff. (Tr. 13-25). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making it the agency's final decision. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then filed the present suit.


         Plaintiff was 23 years old on her alleged onset date in January 2007. (Tr. 248). Plaintiff completed some college in 2006, but did not obtain a college degree. (Tr. 288, 1104). Plaintiff previously worked as a server. (Tr. 93).

         Claimant Statements and Testimony

         Plaintiff reported that, on an average day, she performs a variety of daily activities including child care, cooking, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, shopping, and socializing with friends and family. (ECF No. 15 at 2). Plaintiff also reported she tires easily during these activities, is forgetful and anxious, does not like to be outside alone, and has difficulty concentrating. (Id.) She engages in hobbies that include watching television, writing, typing, and listening to music, all without problems. (Id.) Plaintiff stated she had no issues following written or spoken instructions, or getting along with authority figures. (Id.) At times, Plaintiff reported worsening symptoms, but similar levels of functioning. (Id.)

         Plaintiff's mother reported Plaintiff cared for her young daughter and helped with housework throughout the day, but that she tired easily and was often anxious and agitated. (Id.) Plaintiff also cared for the dog and cats, sometimes taking the dog for walks. (Id.) Plaintiff's mother reported Plaintiff had no issues with personal care, preparing her own meals, cleaning and laundry (if not in pain), and that she shopped weekly; though she did not drive, needed reminders to take medication and had emotional outbursts. (Id. at 2-3).

         At the November 2015 hearing, Plaintiff testified she had been addicted to pain medications, spice (synthetic marijuana), and anti-anxiety medications, but had stopped abusing pain medication four months prior to the hearing. (Id. at 3). She reported worsening symptoms of anxiety beginning after she was raped in late 2012, but she stopped all psychiatric medications “cold turkey” and reported increased crying since doing so. (Id.) Plaintiff said she had only two good days per week, but she was able to take her daughter to school and go shopping, attending parent-teacher conferences, and school programs. (Id.)

         Medical Record

         Plaintiff sought mental health treatment from various providers between 2012 and 2015, including Valley Mental Health, Silverado Counseling, and Aspen Ridge Counseling. (Id.) After she requested a mental health evaluation from Valley Mental Health, and a document stating she could not work, Plaintiff chose not to engage in treatment beyond the initial evaluation. (Id.) Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital in February 2013 for suicidal and homicidal ideation. (Id.) She was diagnosed with depression, PTSD, and anxiety. (Id. at 3-4). She was discharged in stable condition after making significant progress during her stay. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital again in June 2013 for a suicide attempt via overdose. (Id. at 3-4). She was diagnosed with recurrent major depression and improved with treatment. (Id. at 4).

         Medical Opinions of Record

         In 2013 Plaintiff reported to consultative examiner Tanya Colledge, Psy. D. that the present application represents her third attempt to apply for disability benefits. (Id.) Plaintiff also reported she stopped working in 2008 when her daughter was born. (Id.) Plaintiff admitted a history of marijuana and spice abuse, but claimed she had been clean since 2011. (Id.) She reported past traumas, including being physically and sexually abused by her stepfather during childhood, and being raped twice. (Id.) She also reported her 2013 psychiatric hospitalizations. (Id.) Plaintiff said she spent her days getting her daughter ready for school, transporting her to and from school, completing household chores, cooking meals, and watching television. (Id.) Dr. Colledge noted that Plaintiff was cooperative, oriented, logical, and coherent, with normal memory, speech, and thought content; she displayed appropriate affect, an adequate fund of knowledge, attention, concentration, and language, and unimpaired abstract reasoning, judgment and insight. (Id.) Dr. Colledge noted Plaintiff was able to maintain attention for the duration of the examination (approximately two-and-one-half hours) and meaningfully participate in the process. (Id.) Dr. Colledge found Plaintiff to be of low-average intellectual functioning and that she could generally remember simple instructions (and some multi-step instructions), but presented with “an impaired capacity to tolerate work stress.” (Id. at 4-5).

         In June 2013 state agency psychologist, Garrett Chesley, Ph.D., reviewed Plaintiff's records and opined she was capable of simple work with low social interaction. (Id. at 5). A second state agency psychologist, Charles Raps, ...

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