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Theresa Just v. Michael J. Astrue

February 1, 2012

THERESA JUST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff Theresa Just ("Just") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her claims for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, 1382c. Just and the Commissioner filed cross-motions for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, Just's motion is granted and the Commissioner's motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Procedural History

Just filed an application for SSI and DIB on March 16, 2007, alleging disability as of January 18, 2007, due to various mental and physical impairments. Just's application was initially denied on July 10, 2007 and again upon reconsideration on November 29, 2007. Just requested a hearing, which was conducted before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on July 30, 2009. On September 11, 2009, the ALJ rendered a finding of "not disabled." Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Just filed the instant action.

II. Medical Evidence

A. Physical Impairments

Since November 2006, Just has been treated for dysmenorrhea, which presents with symptoms of acute pelvic and abdominal pain. Just's treating physician, Dr. M.T.K. Ghani ("Dr. Ghani"), examined Just on multiple occasions between 2006 and 2007 but reported no abnormal gynecological findings. Dr. Ghani prescribed pain medication for Just's abdominal pain and recommended a partial hysterectomy, noting that Just was unable to work until further notice. Dr. Ghani also diagnosed Just with depression, prescribed Avonex, and recommended her for psychiatric counseling.

Dr. Sun Kim ("Dr. Kim") treated Just from May 2007 through March 2008 and diagnosed Just with severe pelvic endometriosis, stage III. Endometriosis often presents with symptoms of dysmenorrhea and pelvic pain. Dr. Kim treated Just with Lupron injections for a period of six months.

In addition to endometriosis and dysmenorrhea, Just suffers from recurrent skin infections. These infections frequently develop into abscesses and require surgical lancing, draining, and intravenous antibiotics. A culture exam revealed that the infections contained methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureas ("MRSA"), a highly contagious bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.

B. Mental Impairments

In June 2007, Just saw J.B. Goebel, Ph.D. ("Dr. Goebel") for a consultative psychological evaluation. Just complained of depression and difficulty sleeping. Dr. Goebel conducted a mental status exam to assess various aspects of Just's cognitive abilities. During the mental status exam, Just made several errors consistent with concentration difficulties.*fn2 However, Dr. Goebel determined that she was of average intelligence and diagnosed her with major depressive disorder.

On July 3, 2007, Dr. Glen Pittman ("Dr. Pittman") reviewed the record and opined that Just did not have a severe mental impairment. He stated that Just had mild difficulties in daily activities, social functioning, and concentration, persistence, or pace. Though he noted that Just had some problems with calculations and memory, Dr. Pittman determined that Just's depression was not severe and did not significantly impair her activities of daily living.

At Dr. Kim's request, Just met with Dr. Samina Khattak ("Dr. Khattak"), a psychiatrist, in July 2007. Just complained of mood swings, aggressive outbursts, depression, and difficulty sleeping. Dr. Khattak diagnosed Just with bipolar disorder and prescribed Lamictal and Abilify. When Just complained of adverse ...


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