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Adcox v. Colvin

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 17, 2013

BIRTY ADCOX, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


BYRON G. CUDMORE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Birty Adcox appeals the denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income (Disability Benefits) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1381a, 1382c, and 1383(c). Adcox has filed a Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 12) (Adcox Motion), and Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) has filed a Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e15).[1] 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 June 21, 2013 (d/e 14). For the reasons set forth below, the Decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.


Adcox was born on September 16, 1988. She completed the ninth grade and part of the tenth grade. Her past employment included working in telephone sales. Answer to Complaint (d/e 9), attached Certified Copy of Record of Proceedings Before the Social Security Administration (R.), at 52-53. Adcox gave birth to her daughter on July 5, 2007. Adcox has lived with and cared for her daughter since birth. R. 117, 421. Adcox suffers from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder traits, and paranoid personality features. Adcox also claimed to have pain in her ankle, hip, back, and abdomen. R. 9.

On April 7, 2008, state agency clinical psychologist Dr. Frank Froman, Ed.D., evaluated Adcox. Dr. Froman diagnosed Adcox with bipolar II disorder; mixed personality disorder with borderline, passive aggressive, and antisocial traits; and borderline to low normal intellectual functioning. He gave her a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 48. R. 290. Adcox reported that she planned to seek counseling. Dr. Froman opined that Adcox was "able to perform simple one and two step assemblies at a competitive rate, " but she had poor ability to relate to others, and she appeared to be "only marginally able to withstand the stress associated with even mild levels of employment." R. 291. Dr. Froman concluded that at the time of the evaluation Adcox appeared unable to work around people or "stay the course." R. 291. Dr. Froman recommended that Adcox receive another assessment following a course of therapy. R. 291.

On May 15, 2008, psychiatrist Dr. Salvador Sanchez, M.D., conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Adcox. R. 472-75. Dr. Sanchez diagnosed bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and borderline intellectual level of functioning. He assessed a GAF score of 65. R. 474. Dr. Sanchez prescribed Lexapro, counseling, and cognitive behavior therapy. R. 475.

On December 15, 2008, Adcox saw physician's assistant T. Oakley, P.A., at the Quincy Family Practice Center in Quincy, Illinois, complaining of anxiety. R. 445-46, R. 458. She reported that she was taking Lexapro "and it did help with the attacks but she stopped taking it for no particular reason." She reported daily anxiety symptoms that usually were worse at night. She reported difficulty sleeping. Oakley restarted her on Lexapro. R. 458.

On January 2, 2009, Adcox began a six-month plan of counseling services at Transitions of Western Illinois ("Transitions" or "TWI"). The plan called for regular counseling and medication. R. 490-94.

On January 9, 2009, Adcox went back to the Quincy Family Practice for treatment to quit smoking. She saw Dr. H. Calipjo, M.D. She reported that the Lexapro was controlling her symptoms of anxiety and depression. Dr. Calipjo prescribed Chantix. R. 457.

On July 27, 2009, Transitions discharged Adcox from all agency services. Transitions records state the reason for the discharge as, "Lack of Participation: Consumer declined recommended TWI services by not showing for appointments, not responding to attempts to contact, or by not being accessible to contact." R. 495.

On October 25, 2009, Adcox's uncle Rod Owlsey prepared a Function Report - Adult Third Party form. R. 169-76. Owsley reported that Adcox lived with family. He reported that Adcox cared for her daughter. He reported that Adcox had difficulty sleeping. He reported that she had problems bathing and feeding herself. He reported that Adcox wrote herself reminders to do things, including taking medication. He reported that she prepared meals using a microwave oven. Adcox performed household chores such as vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, and laundry, but no yard work. Adcox left the house two or three times a week. She left by herself. She went grocery shopping four to five times a month. He reported that her condition affected her in the areas of: completing tasks; concentration; understanding; following instructions; and getting along with others. He reported that she followed written and oral instructions "pretty good." R. 173. He said that she was "very good" at getting along with authority figures. He reported that she did not like changing routines. R. 169-74.

On October 26, 2009, Adcox completed a Function Report - Adult Form. R. 193-200. Adcox reported that spent her days cooking and cleaning and taking care of her daughter. She reported that her uncle helped her take care of her daughter. She reported that her illness affected her memory. She reported that she had trouble sleeping. She reported that she had trouble bathing and feeding herself. She stated, "Sometimes don't take showers enough, " and "Sometimes eat too little or over eat." R. 194. She reported that she needed family members to remind her to do things, including taking medications. She reported that she cooked three meals a day and spent three hours a day doing housework, but no yard work. She reported that she went shopping three to four times a month. She walked and used public transportation. She reported that her illness affected her in the areas of: talking; memory; completing tasks; concentration; understanding; following instructions; and getting along with others. She reported problems remembering and concentrating. She reported that she followed written and oral instructions "pretty well." R. 198. She reported that she got irritated with authority figures. She reported mood swings, anxiety, and feelings of paranoia. R. 193-200.

On October 26, 2009, Transitions staff prepared an assessment of Adcox. R. 673-89. The assessment noted Adcox's diagnoses of bipolar disorder and personality disorder. The assessment indicated that she suffered from several problems, including panic attacks. R. 673. The assessment also indicated that she had problems with getting out of bed, conflicts with authority figures, problems with physical aggression, and problems with poor judgment in social situations. R. 674. The assessment indicated that Adcox was immature for her age; suspicious, evasive, and impulsive; engaged in guarded behavior; had a labile affect; had soft, fast, and over talkative speech with use of baby talk; was distractible; had loose associations in her thought processes; and had poor insight and judgment. The assessment stated that Adcox was able to participate in treatment, but was impaired by her limited attention/focus. R. 684. The Transitions staff gave Adcox a GAF score of 50. R. 685.

On December 3, 2009, Dr. Froman conducted another psychological evaluation of Adcox. Dr. Froman stated that Adcox's psychological profile "was un-interpretable" because of her "endorsement of so many" psychological problems. Dr. Froman continued, "This suggests that she has a tendency of over-presenting psychopathology to a significant degree, and that her subjective assessment of herself is only marginally related to objective circumstance." R. 519.

Dr. Froman diagnosed bipolar disorder; history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), secondary to sexual victimization; borderline personality disorder, paranoid personality features; and fatigue. He rated her psychological problems as moderately severe. He assessed her with a GAF score of 56.

Dr. Froman concluded:

If Birty finds an appropriate treatment regimen to settle her, she will likely be able to perform one or two step assemblies at a competitive rate. Her ability to get along with others, however, is compromised by a sense of wariness, and a chronic level of character disorder that makes relationships problematic. She is able to understand simple oral and written instructions and appears able to manage cash benefits. Were she motivated, I believe that she would be able to withstand the stress associated with customary employment.

On December 18, 2009, agency psychologist, Dr. Joseph Mehr, Ph.D., prepared a Psychiatric Review Technique and Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Adcox. R. 497-513. Dr. Mehr opined that Adcox suffered from bipolar disorder, on medication; PTSD; borderline personality disorder with paranoid traits. R. 497-506. Dr. Mehr opined that Adcox had mild restriction on activities of daily living; moderate difficulties maintaining social functioning; moderate difficulties maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, and no episodes of decompensation. R. 507. Dr. Mehr opined that Adcox was moderately limited in her ability to: understand and remember detailed instructions; carry out detailed instructions; interact appropriately with the public; accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors; and respond appropriately to changes in the work setting. R. 512. Dr. Mehr concluded, in part:

[Adcox] has lost several jobs because she relates poorly to her supervisors, or walks off. Now on medication in treatment she may relate more appropriately. This lady is fully oriented, free of serious memory impairment, and is acceptably independent in activities of daily living. She retains sufficient cognitive capacity to understand and remember instructions for simple tasks of a routine and repetitive type. She, in addition, retains sufficient attention and concentration to persist and complete activities for extended periods of time. She retains adequate pace and endurance to maintain a schedule and punctual attendance, and to complete a normal workday and work week. She is able to perform at a regular, minimally acceptable rate, requiring only the usual frequency and lengths of rest breaks.
She retains the capacity to accept instructions, to tolerate supervision, and to get along with coworkers or peers. She has limited social tolerance and would do best in a socially undemanding and restricted setting with reduced interpersonal contact, away from the general public.
She retains the capacity to adjust to changes in daily routines, and to be aware of and self-protective of common hazards. This woman also retains the capacity to utilize ...

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