The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge:
Thursday, 25 April, 2013 04:07:11 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Plaintiff Timothy Anderson appeals the denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (collectively Disability Benefits) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 216(i), 223, 405(g), 1381a, 1382c, and 1383(c). Anderson has filed a Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 10) (Anderson Motion), and Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) has filed a Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e11).*fn1 The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to proceed before this Court. Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate and Order of Reference, entered October 31, 2012 (d/e 9). For the reasons set forth below, the Decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
Anderson was born on September 1, 1971. He completed high school and two years of college, but did not receive a degree. Answer to Complaint (d/e 6), attached Certified Transcript of Proceedings before the Social Security Administration (R.), at 53-54. Anderson previously worked in the software industry as a quality assurance tester, engineer, and project supervisor. R. 139. He last worked in November 2001. R. 53, 292. He alleged that he became disabled on June 1, 2006. Anderson suffers from major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and a history of polysubstance abuse, in remission. R. 34.
On April 24, 2006, Anderson saw Dr. Timothy Jacobs, D.O., at an ambulatory care facility in Quincy, Illinois, requesting a blood work up to check his cholesterol. Anderson also reported to Dr. Jacobs that he had suffered from a panic disorder for several years. R. 232. Anderson reported that he had tried several medications for panic and depression, but nothing helped. Dr. Jacobs referred him to Dr. M. Nassery, M.D. R. 229. On April 25, 2006, Anderson saw Dr. Nassery's nurse practitioner Elizabeth Stumpf, CNP. R. 229-31. Anderson reported that he had experienced depression and panic attacks for seven years. He described the panic attacks as a choking and nausea, accompanied by shakiness and sweating. R. 229. Anderson also reported problems with insomnia. Stumpf observed that Anderson was anxious during the examination.
R. 230. Stumpf diagnosed an adjustment disorder with anxiety, prescribed Lexapro, and referred Anderson to Transitions of Western Illinois (Transitions) for evaluation. R. 230-31.
On May 9, 2006, Anderson saw Stumpf again. Anderson reported that his insomnia improved and the number of daily panic attacks had decreased. He still felt irritable and had trouble concentrating. Anderson denied having feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or helplessness; and denied having homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Anderson had started seeing a counselor at Transitions, David Edwards, LCPC, and was scheduled to see a psychiatrist in July 2006. Stumpf continued the Lexapro. R. 227; see R. 261.
On June 20, 2006, Anderson saw Stumpf again. Anderson reported seeing counselor Edwards on a weekly basis at Transitions. Anderson reported fewer panic attacks. Anderson reported that the Lexapro was only mildly helping. Stumpf diagnosed Anderson with generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks. R. 225.
On July 31, 2006, Anderson saw a psychiatrist at Transitions, Dr. Salvador Sanchez, M.D., for a psychiatric evaluation. R. 276. Anderson reported that his depression and anxiety worsened when his mother died two years earlier in California. Anderson was living in California with his mother at the time of her death. Anderson thereafter moved from California to live with his grandparents in Plainville, Illinois. Anderson reported "recurrent, frequent, and intense panic attacks occurring daily and all day long." R. 276. He reported that he was unable to function due to the panic attacks. R. 276. He reported that his symptoms had improved since he started seeing his counselor Edwards. R. 276.
Anderson reported to Dr. Sanchez that he was withdrawn, isolated, and unable to sleep. He had poor memory, attention, and concentration, but he noticed improvement with his current treatment. Anderson reported one hospitalization in the past for a suicide attempt. Anderson had a history of drug abuse, but reported no current illegal drug use. Anderson had symptoms of depression and anxiety. Dr. Sanchez's mental status examination indicated that Anderson was not in acute distress. Anderson had rapid fluttering of the jaw and some shaking due to anxiety. Anderson denied any hallucinations or suicidal or homicidal ideations; however, he stated that he sometimes had fleeting death wishes. R. 227-28.
Dr. Sanchez diagnosed major depressive disorder, moderate, recurrent, without psychotic features; panic disorder without agoraphobia; generalized anxiety disorder; and history of polysubstance abuse, in remission. He gave Anderson a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 55.
R. 276-78. Dr. Sanchez prescribed Zoloft and Clonazepam, and continued counseling sessions with Edwards. R. 278.
On September 12, 2006, Anderson saw Stumpf again. R. 223. Anderson reported that the medications prescribed by Dr. Sanchez seemed to be working. Stumpf recommended that Anderson "get out and exercise and to consider finding some employment . . . ." R. 223.
On February 27, 2007, Anderson saw Stumpf again. Anderson reported that his grandmother died in January 2007, and he was having financial problems. Stumpf assessed "anxiety and depression, coupled with grief." R. 221. Stumpf noted that Anderson's mood was stable.
On January 24, 2008, Anderson saw counselor Edwards at Transitions. Anderson reported having low energy. He was stressed about his grandfather undergoing surgery. He was in good compliance with his medications. His sleep was improved. He reported no suicidal or homicidal ideations. R. 279-80.
On April 24, 2008, Anderson saw Edwards at Transitions. Anderson reported that his sleep was good and his depression was manageable. Anderson denied having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, but he reported having auditory hallucinations. R. 281.
On July 24, 2008, Anderson saw Edwards at Transitions. Anderson reported that he wanted to go back to school or work. Edwards noted that Anderson's medications were effective. R. 284.
On September 18, 2008, Anderson saw Edwards at Transitions. Edwards noted that Anderson's panic attacks were under control. Anderson's sleep was good and he again denied any suicidal or homicidal ideations. R. 287.
On November 25, 2008, Edwards prepared an Adult Mental Health/DD Assessment of Anderson. Edwards noted that Anderson began receiving treatment at Transitions for anxiety and depression in May 2006. Anderson's main concern at the beginning was anxiety and panic attacks, but more recently, Anderson's main concern was depression. R. 262. Anderson reported that he sometimes heard voices and sounds, such as footsteps or movements. Anderson reported that the auditory hallucinations did not "bother" him, but that the hallucinations were "annoying to him at times." R. 262. Edwards reported that Anderson made considerable progress in reducing symptoms of depression over the past year. R. 262. Anderson continued to make progress to control his symptoms of depression and anxiety. R. 264. Anderson's symptoms had been reduced over the past year. R. 274. Anderson was taking Zoloft, Trazodone, and Neurontin at the time and was compliant with those medications. R. 265, 274.
Anderson reported to Edwards that he was interested in television, cars, computers, writing, video games, movies and music. Anderson reported that he wanted to pursue several goals, including going back to school, working, and leading a more productive life. R. 270. Edwards stated that Anderson had problems of self-esteem/efficacy and lack of motivation. R. 270.
On examination, Edwards observed Anderson's mental status was within normal limits, but Edwards observed that Anderson had a blunted affect and depressed mood. Anderson's memory was intact and he had good insight. R. 271. Edwards diagnosed major depressive disorder, severe, recurrent, with psychotic features and generalized anxiety disorder.
R. 272. Edwards assessed a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 61. R. 272. Edwards stated that Anderson did not meet the criteria for mental health related serious impairment. R. 272. Edwards recommended continuing outpatient psychiatric and therapy/counseling services. Edwards recommended that the primary focus should be on reducing symptoms of depression and monitoring progress with anxiety.
R. 274. Edwards stated that Anderson was more appropriately diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder rather than panic disorder because of the infrequency of his panic attacks and his more generalized anxious disposition. R. 274.
On March 19, 2009, Anderson went to see a nurse Amy Anderson, at Transitions for a medication check. R. 339. Anderson reported that his sleep was good. Anderson reported he was anxious all the time and had fleeting suicidal thoughts. Anderson reported no psychosis. Anderson reported that the effect of his medications was poor, and he requested an increase in the dosage. Anderson reported that he argued with his grandfather frequently and had financial and vocational stressors. R. 339-40. On March 24, 2009, Dr. Sanchez increased the dosage of Anderson's Zoloft and Neurontin. R. 340.
On April 17, 2009, Anderson completed a Function Report. R. 158-65. Anderson stated that his "day is strongly determined by mood."
R. 158. Anderson stated that he could take care of his personal hygiene and do household chores, although he sometimes neglected dressing and hygiene. He did not need special reminders to take care of his personal needs and grooming. Anderson washed dishes, did household repairs, took out the trash, and cleaned up after his dog. Anderson also cooked his own meals. He reported that he did chores as necessary. He also cared for his dog, including walking the dog. Anderson reported that he lived with his grandfather; was unable to drive a car, attend gatherings, associate with people at length, or relax; and could not pay bills because of the stress it causes. R. 158-61. Anderson stated that he had difficulty dealing with others, including family members. He described his temper as "shot" and his tolerance as "non-existent." R. 163. Anderson said that he could concentrate for an hour at a time. He had no problems following written instructions and, usually could follow spoken instructions without much trouble. He stated that he could get along with authority figures, except, "If the authority figure is a jerk then I won't get along at all." R. 164. Anderson stated that he could handle changes in routine, but did not handle stress well at all. R. 164. Anderson stated that sometimes he could not get out of bed because of his depression. At those times, all he wanted to do was sleep and not have to deal with the world. R. 165.
On April 27, 2009, state agency psychologist Dr. Frank Froman, Ed.D., performed a consultative psychological examination of Anderson.
R. 291-95. Anderson reported that he dropped out of college after two years because of depression that he suffered after his mother died.
R. 291. Anderson reported that he was a patient in a psychiatric unit in 2003 or 2004. R. 291. He had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but no current problems. R. 292. Anderson had no current physical problems.
R. 291. Anderson reported that he never tried to commit suicide, but he had suicidal thoughts before. Dr. Froman observed that Anderson related in a manner that suggested slight anxiety. Anderson had good ability to relate. Anderson's speech was "extraordinarily abundant but clear and easy to understand." R. 292.
Anderson told Dr. Froman that he no longer socialized due to his depression. He had problems sleeping and indicated he was gaining weight. Anderson reported that he drank eight to ten cups of coffee a day. Anderson did not relate feeling anxious to his consumption of coffee. Anderson reported that he watched television, got on the computer, and played video games during the day. ...