Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Marnell v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. New York

July 30, 2018

JOHN R. MARNELL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DECISION & ORDER

          MARIAN W. PAYSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

         Plaintiff John R. Marnell (“Marnell”) brings this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented to the disposition of this case by a United States magistrate judge. (Docket # 16).

         Currently before the Court are the parties' motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket ## 9, 14). For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence in the record and complies with applicable legal standards. Accordingly, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, and Marnell's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Procedural Background

         Marnell protectively filed for DIB on May 28, 2013, alleging disability beginning on June 1, 2012, due to bipolar disorder and depression. (Tr. 175, 178).[1] On August 5, 2013, the Social Security Administration denied Marnell's claims for benefits, finding that he was not disabled. (Tr. 85-89). Marnell requested and was granted a hearing before Administrative Law Judge David J. Begley (the “ALJ”). (Tr. 90-91, 116-20). The ALJ conducted a hearing on August 14, 2015.[2] (Tr. 28-57). In a decision dated August 26, 2015, the ALJ found that Marnell was not disabled and was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 10-27).

         On February 7, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Marnell's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-6). Marnell commenced this action on April 5, 2017, seeking review of the Commissioner's decision. (Docket # 1).

         II. Relevant Medical Evidence[3]

         A. Medical Records

         1. Tinu Addams Medical, PC

         On December 31, 2012, Marnell participated in a psychiatric intake evaluation at Tinu Addams Medical, PC. (Tr. 248-49). Marnell complained of increased symptoms of depression, including increased irritability, mood swings, anger, frustration, suicidal ideation, crying, insomnia, and general malaise and decrease in normal interests. (Id.). He reported that he had not been employed since May 2012 and had been fired from a previous job due to poor attendance and tardiness. (Id.). He reported episodes of increased energy lasting one to two days, which generally occurred monthly. (Id.). He indicated that he socialized with a few friends, but that he was otherwise withdrawn and had no daily routine. (Id.). He primarily slept during the day and spent the evenings on the computer. (Id.).

         Marnell indicated that he previously had been treated by a therapist, but had stopped because he did not find the treatment helpful. (Id.). Marnell had been taking Celexa daily since 2007, which he found somewhat helpful. (Id.). Marnell lived at home with his parents and his sister, and had attended four years of college but had not obtained a degree. (Id.). He was assessed to suffer from bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and was prescribed Lamictal and advised to continue taking Celexa. (Id.). He was referred for a sleep study. (Id.).

         Marnell returned for an appointment with Catherine A. Grasta (“Grasta”), NPP, on January 28, 2013. (Tr. 246-47). Marnell expressed agreement with the bipolar diagnosis and indicated that he experienced increased depression if he did not take Celexa. (Id.). Marnell reported racing thoughts, periods of increased energy, difficulty falling asleep, low energy, and poor concentration. (Id.). A mental status examination of Marnell was essentially normal, with appropriate appearance, cooperative attitude, calm motor activity, appropriate speech, euthymic mood and affect, goal-oriented thought processes, and intact cognition. (Id.). Marnell reported that he was tolerating his medication without any physical discomfort, and Grasta instructed him to incrementally increase his Lamictal dosage. (Id.).

         Marnell did not return for an appointment with Grasta until May 9, 2013, more than three months later. (Tr. 245). During that appointment, Marnell reported that he had stopped taking all of his medication approximately two months earlier because some made him ill. (Id.). Marnell complained of increased depression, bouts of mania and hypomania, and feelings of paranoia. (Id.). He reported moderate energy and concentration and that he continued to spend time with friends. (Id.). A mental status examination was normal, and Grasta instructed Marnell to continue taking Celexa and to restart Lamictal and gradually increase the dosage. (Id.).

         The following month, Marnell returned for an appointment with Grasta. (Tr. 244). He reported that he generally experienced about three good days a month; and on other days, he experienced depression or mania with rapidly cycling moods. (Id.). According to Marnell, he slept during the day because he had difficulty sleeping at night. (Id.). Marnell explained that he had attended college for more than four years, but missed his senior recital due to appendicitis and never obtained a degree. (Id.). He reported that he had attended a sleep study intake appointment, but had not returned for the study because he had not wanted to wear a mask. (Id.). A mental status examination was normal except for suicidal thoughts without plan. (Id.). Marnell reported that he was tolerating his medication without physical discomfort, and Grasta instructed him to continue his medication and to gradually increase the Lamictal dosage. (Id.).

         Marnell attended another appointment with Grasta on July 11, 2013. (Tr. 321-22). He reported that he was not doing well and was experiencing depression, anxiety, apathy, and thoughts of suicide. (Id.). He reportedly spent his days sleeping or playing video games, and he smoked marijuana to alleviate his suicidal urges. (Id.). Marnell indicated that he would not harm himself because of the effects of such action on his family. (Id.). He reported that he had recently joined a gym and planned to begin exercising and to audition for a role in an upcoming production at a local college. (Id.). Marnell had been inconsistent with his medication due to “chaos in his life.” (Id.). His mental status examination was essentially normal, and Marnell agreed to continue taking his medication and to continue to increase the Lamictal dosage. (Id.).

         During his appointment the following month, Marnell reported that he had not been taking his medication for three to four weeks. (Tr. 319-20). According to Marnell, his medication caused gastrointestinal issues. (Id.). Marnell reported an increase in symptoms, including sadness, decreased interest in socialization, varied sleep, apathy, poor energy, and suicidal ideation. (Id.). According to Marnell, he had difficulty maintaining an exercise routine, had been unable to cope with the stress associated with auditioning for the production, and had experienced a steady decline in his mood. (Id.). Grasta discussed a suicide safety plan with Marnell and his mother, and she suggested that Marnell be admitted to a partial hospitalization program. (Id.). Grasta counseled Marnell regarding consistency with his medication and suggested that his gastrointestinal issues stemmed from his diabetic medicine, not the medication that she prescribed and advised him that he should not have stopped all of his medication. (Id.). Marnell agreed to restart Celexa and to take Neurontin for his anxiety. (Id.).

         On September 18, 2013, Marnell attended another appointment with Grasta. (Tr. 318). He reported that he had restarted his medication and that he was feeling “much better.” (Id.). He decided not to participate in the partial hospitalization program and was socializing more often with friends. (Id.). He reported good sleep and appetite but that he felt tired and his concentration was poor. (Id.). Grasta recommended that Marnell continue taking Celexa and Neurontin, start exercising, and return in four to six weeks. (Id.).

         Marnell returned for another appointment with Grasta on October 16, 2013. (Tr. 317). He reported that he believed that Celexa and Neruontin were working well together and that his depression had decreased. (Id.). He had been spending his days with friends and watching television. (Id.). Grasta recommended that Marnell continue his medication as prescribed, start exercising, and attend an anxiety and depression group at Strong. (Id.). During an appointment the following month, Marnell reported that he was losing weight, although not exercising, and that his moods were mostly stable. (Tr. 315). He left the house most days and spent time with friends. (Id.). He also indicated that one of his teachers had suggested that he suffered from ADHD. (Id.).

         In December 2013, Marnell told Grasta that he continued to take his medication as directed and that he was feeling “okay, ” although he continued to use marijuana several times a week. (Tr. 314). He reported that he was spending time with friends and would be babysitting his two-year-old niece. (Id.). In January 2014, Marnell told Grasta that he had not taken Celexa for approximately one week during the holidays, but had restarted it. (Tr. 313). He reported that he lacked focus and motivation. (Id.). Grasta recommended that Marnell try Concerta as a treatment option for ADHD. (Id.).

         In February 2014, Marnell met with Grasta and reported that he had again stopped taking his medication. (Tr. 311). He reported an incident in which he recently had “pulled a knife on himself, ” but indicated that he was sleep deprived at the time and had not hurt himself. (Id.). He stopped taking Concerta after a few days because he did not find it effective and stopped taking Neurontin because it had “just fell to the wayside.” (Id.). He continued to consume marijuana and spend time with friends and family, and he reported better sleep and varied energy levels. (Id.). Grasta noted that Marnell had not been taking his medication for approximately one month and that he was having increased depressive symptoms and thoughts of suicide. (Id.). She recommended that he restart Celexa. (Id.).

         Marnell returned approximately two weeks later and reported that he was doing much better after restarting Celexa. (Tr. 310). According to Marnell, his sleep had returned to a normal pattern, his moods were happy and more even, and he was not experiencing aggressive or irritable episodes. (Id.). He was seeing his friends more often and agreed to restart Neurontin and Concerta. (Id.). During an appointment on April 10, 2014, Marnell reported that the Neurontin was relieving his anxiety and that his moods remained good. (Tr. 309). He had tried Concerta, but it made him feel “weird, ” and he discontinued it. (Id.). Grasta recommended that he continue his current medication regimen and return in three months. (Id.).

         On July 9, 2014, Marnell attended another appointment with Grasta. (Tr. 308). He reported that he was doing “okay, ” although he was depressed over his inability to work and earn income. (Id.). Marnell reported that he had been taking insulin since the end of April, and that he took Celexa at the same time, which caused him to be more consistent with his medication regimen. (Id.). Grasta recommended that Marnell continue his current medication and consider being more active. (Id.).

         During an appointment on November 12, 2014, Marnell reported that he had stopped taking his medication for approximately one month. (Tr. 356). At the time he was in a “dark place, ” but was feeling better since restarting the medication, which “dulled” his depression. (Id.). Grasta again encouraged Marnell to exercise and recommended that he return in three months. (Id.). In February 2015, Marnell reported that had once again stopped taking his medication but had resumed sometime in January. (Tr. 357). He reported feeling good and that he had a gym membership and planned to start exercising regularly. (Id.).

         On May 20, 2015, Marnell returned for another appointment with Grasta. (Tr. 361-62). He reported that he was doing okay, but that he had been off of his medication for approximately two months and had been experiencing low moods and suicidal ideation without plans. (Id.). Marnell expressed that he did not believe he was living up to his potential. A mental status examination was normal. (Id.). Grasta recommended that he restart his medication, attempt to volunteer one hour a week, mentor younger individuals with depression, and attend ACCESS for job coaching. (Id.).

         Marnell met with Grasta on July 1, 2015. (Tr. 363-64). He reported that he was tired, had low energy, and had not been taking his insulin or Celexa as prescribed. (Id.). He reported that his mother was going to assist him to restart his medication regimen and that he was in the process of appealing the denial of his request for benefits. (Id.). Marnell continued to spend time with friends and to participate occasionally in family activities. (Id.). Grasta instructed Marnell to restart Celexa and to take Neurontin as needed for anxiety and foot pain. (Id.).

         2. Elmwood Medical Associates, PC

         On June 5, 2013, Marnell attended an appointment with Mentesinet Woldeyohannes (“Woldeyohannes”), MD, MPH, his primary care physician. (Tr. 263-66). Marnell reported that he had not been taking his medication for the previous two months, but had restarted them and had been monitoring his diet and did not have any significant complaints. (Id.). Treatment notes indicate that Marnell suffered from obesity, hypertension, depressive disorder, hyperlipidemia, hypothyroidism, and Type II diabetes mellitus. (Id.). Woldeyohannes recommended that Marnell continue his current medication and diet. (Id.).

         Marnell returned for a follow-up visit on September 5, 2013. (Tr. 270-73). During the visit, he again reported that he had not been taking his medication for the previous two months. (Id.). Woldeyohannes “strongly advised” Marnell to take his medication as directed and to be regularly monitored by an endocrinologist. (Id.). Marnell had no complaints, and Woldeyohannes advised him to maintain his current medication regimen and to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. (Id.).

         Marnell attended follow-up appointments with Woldeyohannes on December 18, 2013, and March 14, June 13, and October 9, 2014. (Tr. 274-80, 301-04, 334-37). During those appointments, Marnell generally reported that he was compliant with his prescribed medication and denied suffering from any significant symptoms. (Id.). Woldeyohannes advised him to maintain his medication regimen and to diet and exercise. (Id.).

         3. Rochester General Medical Group

         On May 2, 2014, Marnell attended an appointment with Eric M. Griffith (“Griffith”), NP, at the Rochester General Medical Group Diabetes Care and Resource Center. (Tr. 297-300). Treatment notes indicate that Marnell suffered from Type 2 diabetes with peripheral neuropathy complications. (Id.). Marnell reported that he had not been monitoring his blood glucose levels. (Id.). The notes indicate that Marnell had experienced gastrointestinal intolerance to Bydureon and Metformin SR. (Id.). Griffith recommended that Marnell begin to monitor his blood glucose level three times a day and begin an exercise program. (Id.). Griffith prescribed Metformin ER and Lantus and advised Marnell to contact him if he experienced any gastrointestinal issues. (Id.).

         Marnell returned for an appointment with Seth S. Charatz (“Charatz”), DO, on June 26, 2014. (Tr. 305-07). During the appointment, Marnell reported his blood glucose levels and reported no gastrointestinal issues. (Id.). Charatz assessed that Marnell's diabetes was uncontrolled and advised him to increase his Lantus dosage, continue taking Metformin and Glipizide, and begin taking Farxiga. (Id.).

         B. Medical Opinion Evidence

         1. Christine Ransom, PhD

         On July 8, 2013, state examiner Christine Ransom (“Ransom”), PhD, conducted a consultative psychiatric evaluation of Marnell. (Tr. 250-53). Marnell reported that he drove to the examination. (Id.). Marnell also reported that he had completed four and one-half years of college, but had difficulty maintaining employment ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.