United States District Court, N.D. New York
Krysten D., Plaintiff Pro Se
Kristina Cohn, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Social
Security Administration Office of General Counsel Attorney
for the Defendant
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Norman A. Mordue, Senior United States District Court Judge.
Krysten D. filed this action on November 26, 2018 under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the denial of her
application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). (Dkt. No. 1). Acting pro se, Plaintiff
submitted a Form Complaint for appeal of a decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security, requesting judicial review
and entry of judgment for such relief as may be proper.
(Id.). Despite several reminders, Plaintiff failed
to submit a brief in support of her appeal. The Commissioner
submitted its brief on June 11, 2019. (Dkt. No. 14). After
carefully reviewing the administrative record, (Dkt. No. 10),
the Court reverses the decision of the Commissioner and
remands for further proceedings.
applied for SSI benefits on July 24, 2014, alleging that she
became disabled on January 1, 2014. (R. 331). The Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) denied
Plaintiff's claim on February 12, 2015, and again on
reconsideration on October 2, 2015. (R. 357, 363). Plaintiff
appealed, and a hearing was held on July 14, 2017 before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Peter R. Lee.
(R. 297-329). On November 29, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. (R. 18-30).
Plaintiff's subsequent request for review by the Appeals
Council was denied. (R. 2-4). Plaintiff then commenced this
action. (Dkt. No. 1).
Plaintiff's Background and Testimony
alleged that she became unable to work on January 1, 2014 due
to fibromyalgia, depression, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
(R. 443). Plaintiff was born in 1978 and is a high school
graduate, with past work experience as a video store clerk,
café worker, and cleaning repair service worker. (R.
444, 461). She indicated that she stopped working in 2007
because she couldn't handle work and taking care of her
child. (R. 443).
administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified that she suffers
from multiple personality, dissociative disorder, anxiety
with panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and
bipolar disorder. (R. 306). She said she took anti-depressant
and anti-anxiety medications, which made her drowsy. (R.
307). She stated that she attended therapy once a week, which
helped her stress level and agoraphobia. (R. 307). Plaintiff
testified that she also suffers from fibromyalgia and that
muscle relaxers did not help the pain. (R. 311-12). She
complained of panic attacks every other day and migraine
headaches a few times a week. (R. 315-16). Plaintiff
testified that she heard voices constantly, which distracted
her from what she's doing. (R. 320).
testified that she prepared simple meals, had a friend who
helped clean the home, and was able to shop for food with
help from her son. (R. 321). She stated that she watched
television and watched her son play video games. (R. 322).
Plaintiff reported that she read ten to twelve books a month.
friend, Wally Feliz, also submitted a form in support of her
application. (R. 469). He stated that Plaintiff took care of
her teenage son, although he was very self-sufficient. (R.
470). According to Mr. Feliz, Plaintiff prepared simple
meals, performed household chores, shopped for groceries once
a month, and managed her finances. (R. 471-72). He stated
that Plaintiff enjoyed reading, watching movies, and playing
video games. (R. 473). Mr. Feliz indicated that the effects
of Plaintiff's medication and her pain caused her
difficulties with many activities. (R. 474). He also stated
that Plaintiff gets confused easily and handles stress
poorly. (R. 474-75).
Dr. Anthony Candela, Neuropsychologist
January 7, 2015, Plaintiff saw neuropsychologist Dr. Anthony
Candela for an evaluation. (R. 724). She reported panic
attacks and being nervous around people. (R. 724) Plaintiff
relayed that she stopped outpatient therapy several months
ago, and that she stopped taking her psychiatric medications
due to problems with her medical insurance. (R. 724-25). She
stated that she lived with her boyfriend and her 15-year-old
son, and she had been the victim of domestic violence by her
ex-boyfriend. (R. 725).
examination, Plaintiff had pressured and intense speech, but
was alert and oriented, spoke in full sentences, and had a
good fund of knowledge. (R. 725). Dr. Candela found that
Plaintiff was “functioning on a Low Average Level of
Intellectual Ability.” (R. 725). Plaintiff denied any
hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, or schizophrenia. (R.
725). Dr. Candela noted that Plaintiff's affect was
stressed, her mood was anxious and agitated, and her
“insight, judgment, and reasoning were limited.”
(R. 725-26). As to activities, she performed chores with help
from her son and boyfriend, occasionally socialized with a
few friends, and could travel independently, but preferred
not to. (R. 726). Dr. Candela diagnosed panic attacks,
without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and
depressive disorder. (R. 726).
Michael D'Adamo, State Medical Consultant
February 10, 2015, State agency medical consultant Michael
D'Adamo reviewed the evidence of record and opined that
Plaintiff had a moderate restriction to activities of daily
living, mild difficulties in maintaining social functioning,
moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration,
persistence, or pace, and no repeated episodes of
decompensation. (R. 335). Dr. D'Adamo opined that
Plaintiff could perform work that involved slower paced jobs.
St. Mary's Behavioral Health Services
March 13, 2015, Plaintiff was seen at St. Mary's
Behavioral Health Services for mental health treatment for
complaints of anxiety, depression, rage, agoraphobia, and to
reinitiate medication. (R. 728-29, 747, 750). The record
lists a psychiatric diagnosis of Psychosis, with current
treatment by Advanced Practice Nurse (“APN”)
Sharon Katz and Therapist Mirel Goldstein. (R. 728-29).
Plaintiff reported auditory and visual hallucinations,
delusions, and frequent manic symptoms. (R. 739). On March
20, 2015, Plaintiff reported several anxiety/panic attacks
and mood swings. (R. 744). On March 24, 2015, Plaintiff
returned to see APN Katz. (R. 750). On examination, Plaintiff
had normal speech, intact memory, fair judgment, fair
insight, logical thoughts, and normal affect. (R. 752). Her
mood was anxious, fearful, depressed, and cooperative. (R.
752). APN Katz diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety,
and OCD. (R. 753).
March 26, 2015, APN Katz assigned Plaintiff the same
diagnoses and prescribed Klonopin, Cymbalta, and Seroquel.
(R. 769, 777). On March 31, 2015, APN Katz reported that
Plaintiff had normal speech, intact memory, fair judgment,
fair insight, logical thoughts, and normal affect. (R. 778).
Her mood was anxious, fearful, ...