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Vargas v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 14, 2018

LORI K. VARGAS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SONJA F. BIVINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Lori K. Vargas (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq. On April 11, 2018, the parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 17). Thus, the action was referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. Upon careful consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

         I. Procedural History [1]

         Plaintiff filed her application for benefits on August 18, 2014. (Doc. 11 at 77). Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since October 22, 2013, due to breast cancer, no energy, depression, body aches and pains, and continuous headaches. (Id. at 161, 165).

         Plaintiff's application was denied and upon timely request, she was granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law Judge L. Dawn Pischek (hereinafter “ALJ”) on April 22, 2016. (Id. at 45). Plaintiff attended the hearing with her counsel and provided testimony related to her claims. (Id. at 50). A vocational expert (“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided testimony. (Id. at 62). On June 6, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled. (Id. at 24). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 13, 2017. (Id. at 5). Therefore, the ALJ's decision dated June 6, 2016, became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed the present civil action. (Doc. 1). Oral argument was conducted on May 16, 2018. (Doc. 20). This case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).

         II. Issue on Appeal

Whether the ALJ properly considered the opinions of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Magdi Tageldin, M.D., and consultative psychologist, John W. Davis, Ph.D.

         III. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born on July 16, 1969, and was forty-six years of age at the time of her administrative hearing on April 22, 2016. (Doc. 11 at 45, 161). Plaintiff completed high school and two years of college education. (Id. at 51).

         Plaintiff has no past relevant work. (Id. at 37, 51-52). At her hearing, Plaintiff testified that she cannot work because she “always feels tired” from going through chemotherapy; she has neuropathy in her legs; and she has trouble focusing. (Id. at 52). Plaintiff testified that she has “good days and bad days.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff testified that she lives with her parents and her three younger children (ages 17, 12, and 8) and an infant grandchild. (Id. at 51). She takes her children to school, and she picks up her granddaughter from daycare. (Id. at 53). She also helped care for her mother after her mother had a stroke. (Id.). In addition, Plaintiff cooks, does laundry, drives, shops, handles a savings account, uses a checkbook, reads, walks, and visits with family. (Id. at 57). Plaintiff testified that she walks for exercise. (Id. at 60).

         Plaintiff testified that she takes Lexapro for depression/anxiety, that she sees a therapist once a month, and that her anxiety and depression cause her to be nervous and to not want to be around people. (Id. at 54, 56, 58, 61). Plaintiff also testified that her medication helps some and that she has completed treatment for cancer and is now cancer free. (Id. at 54, 62).

         IV. Stand ...


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