United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VERONICA L. DUFFY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Joy Lynn Viessman, seeks judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying her application for
social security disability and supplemental security income
disability benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the
Social Security Act.
Viessman has filed a complaint and motion to reverse the
Commissioner's final decision denying her disability
benefits and to remand the matter to the Social Security
Administration for further proceedings. See Docket
Nos. 1 and 14. The Commissioner has filed his own motion
seeking affirmance of the decision at the agency level.
See Docket No. 16.
appeal of the Commissioner's final decision denying
benefits is properly before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The parties have consented to this magistrate
judge handling this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Statement of the Case
action arises from Ms. Viessman's application for social
security disability benefits and supplemental security income
benefits filed on May 9, 2016, alleging disability since May
8, 2016, due to depression, fear of leaving her home,
anxiety, driving phobia, back pain, female issues, and fear
of people and crowds. AR215, 225, 277.
Viessman's claims were denied at the initial and
reconsideration levels and Ms. Viessman requested an
administrative hearing. AR170, 181, 187, 194.
Viessman's administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
hearing was held in May of 2018, at which different counsel
represented Ms. Viessman. AR74. An unfavorable decision was
issued August 6, 2018, by ALJ Richard Hlaudy. AR7.
1 of the evaluation, the ALJ found that Ms. Viessman had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 8, 2016,
the alleged onset of disability date, and that she was
insured for benefits through December, 2021. AR12.
2, the ALJ found that Ms. Viessman had severe impairments
including status post L4-L5, L5-S1 fusion, depression and
anxiety. AR13. The ALJ also found that Ms. Viessman had a
medically determinable impairment of sleep apnea, but
determined it was non-severe. AR13.
3, the ALJ found that Ms. Viessman did not have an impairment
that meets a Listing. AR13. The ALJ found that Ms.
Viessman's mental impairments caused mild restrictions in
understanding, remembering, or applying information; moderate
limitations in concentration, persistence or maintaining
pace, and that she had mild limitations in adapting or
managing oneself. AR14.
determined that Ms. Viessman had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform:
less than a full range of sedentary work as defined in 20
C.F.R. 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). The claimant can lift
and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently. She can stand and walk 2 hours in an 8-hour
workday and sit 6 hours. She can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, but can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She
can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
She must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards. The
claimant is limited to performing simple routine repetitive
tasks. She can have occasional and superficial interaction
with the public and coworkers.
on this RFC, the ALJ determined at Step 4 that Ms. Viessman
could not perform her past relevant work. AR21-22.
5, relying on the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ
found that Ms. Viessman could perform the occupations of
credit clerk (DOT 237.367-014), document preparer (DOT
249.587-018), and telephone quotation clerk (DOT
Viessman timely requested review by the Appeals Council,
which denied review making the ALJ's decision final, and
Ms. Viessman timely filed this action. AR1-6, 213.
Plaintiff's Age, Education and Work Experience
Viessman was 44 years old at the time of the decision, and
she completed the 12th grade in 1992. AR225, 278. Ms.
Viessman had relevant work as a day care owner and a travel
Relevant Medical Evidence (chronological order)
Viessman contacted Sanford Family Medicine Clinic on October
26, 2015, to report that her anxiety had been much worse,
that a panic attack the previous week required ambulance
transfer from Dell Rapids Hospital, and that she had been
prescribed Vistral for her anxiety. AR494.
Viessman contacted the Sanford Family Medicine Clinic again
on October 30, 2015, again with increased anxiety, and
requested that her anxiety medication be switched back to
Xanax. AR493. Ms. Viessman was seen at the Sanford Hospital
ER the same day due to a panic attack, and she had been
forced to close her day care and send the children home.
AR489. Her diagnoses included low back pain, anxiety, severe
major depression with psychotic features, insomnia, migraine,
herniated disc, degenerative disk disease, lumbar radicular
pain, panic attacks and morbid obesity. AR489-90. Ms.
Viessman was given Ativan for her anxiety and the ER
physician expressed concern with Ms. Viessman's long-term
treatment of her anxiety with Xanax. AR493.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on November 3,
2015, for her depression and anxiety. AR486. She reported
that she has a phobia for highways and gets scared and
anxious even as a passenger in a vehicle. AR486. Xanax and
Lexapro were prescribed, and counseling was recommended.
Viessman presented to the Sanford ER on November 11, 2015,
reporting that her prescribed medications did not help and
with complaints of anxiety, inability to sleep, and stress
related neck and shoulder pain. AR482. Ms. Viessman was given
Haldol, and counseling was recommended. AR485.
Viessman returned to the ER again on November 14, 2015, with
severe anxiety and left shoulder pain. She was given Toradol
and valium, was told to follow-up with her primary care
physician, and it was recommended she see a psychiatrist for
her chronic anxiety. AR473, 477.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on November 23,
2015, and reported ongoing anxiety. AR470. Her Xanax was
continued, her Lexapro dosage was increased, Ativan was also
prescribed, and it was recommended that she go to Avera
Behavioral Health for an assessment. AR472.
Viessman contacted the clinic later the same day to inform
them that she was at Avera Behavioral Health waiting for a
psychological assessment. AR473.
Viessman was seen at Sioux Falls Psychological Services on
December 2, 2015, by referral from Avera Behavioral Health
following inpatient treatment for suicidal ideations,
anxiety, and depression. AR353. Ms. Viessman reported panic
attacks in June and October, 2015, that led to 911 calls and
hospitalization, and a prior suicide attempt in 1994. AR354.
Her mood was depressed. AR354. She was scheduled for
counseling the next week. AR356.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on December 2,
2015, following inpatient treatment at Avera Behavioral
Health for anxiety and suicidal ideations. AR466. Her Xanax
had been stopped, and Klonopin and Remeron were prescribed.
AR466. She was advised to start counseling as soon as
Viessman was seen for counseling at Sioux Falls Psychological
Services on December 14, 2015. AR358. Ms. Viessman was
observed to be tearful and moderately anxious and depressed.
AR358. She noted that her ex-husband was staying with her and
had been abusive since being released from jail. AR358. Ms.
Viessman reported that her anxiety medication had been
January 4, 2016, Ms. Viessman reported to therapists that
she, with the encouragement of friends and family, decided to
end contact with her ex-husband. AR360. After ending the
contact Ms. Viessman reported feeling empowered, having
decreased depression and anxiety, and having an increased
ability to drive without panic. AR360. She continued
counseling sessions through February, 2016. AR360-66.
Viessman saw her primary care physician at USD Physicians
Clinic on January 11, 2016, and reported that her depression
and anxiety were significantly better. AR362, 364, 447-48.
Ms. Viessman reported being satisfied with her medications,
which included Remeron, Ativan, and Klonopin. AR448. She was
seen again on January 29, 2016, for lower back and hip pain.
AR444. Toradol was given and Flexeril prescribed. AR447.
Viessman was also being seen during this period at the
hospital and clinics for vaginal and abdominal pain and
bleeding. See e.g., AR405, 414, 433, 437-38, 442.
She eventually had a hysterectomy on June 15, 2016. AR394.
Viessman was seen at the Sanford Orthopedic Clinic on May 4,
2016, for thoracic back pain, bilateral shoulder pain, and
hip pain that started a week earlier after starting a new job
working with a conveyor belt that required repetitive
arm/shoulder motions. AR428. She also complained of chronic
low back pain and “limping on the right side.”
AR428. Examination revealed a somewhat reduced range of
motion of the spine, tenderness to right upper thoracic
muscles but with normal strength and tone and intact
reflexes. AR431. Prednisone was prescribed, along with
Baclofen and physical therapy. AR431.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on May 10, 2016,
and reported her depression had gotten worse, she was not
leaving her house, driving was not an issue, but she had lost
two jobs. AR425. Mental status examination revealed normal
behavior, judgment and thought content. AR408. Ms. Viessman
was also waiting to see Dr. Boetel for her severe low back
pain with a lot of radiation to her buttocks. AR425.
Examination revealed lumbar tenderness, edema, pain and
spasm, and a depressed mood. AR427. Toradol was given and
counseling recommended. AR428.
Viessman was seen for physical therapy on May 16, 2016, and
examination revealed tenderness, limited range of motion and
pain in shoulder area. AR421-22. The physical therapist noted
that Ms. Viessman's rehabilitation potential was good.
AR422. Ms. Viessman displayed a mobility dysfunction of the
shoulder and the thoracic lumbar region as well as the
stability motor control dysfunction of the scapular
stabilizer musculature. AR422.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on May 25, 2016,
and reported increased anxiety and watery diarrhea leading to
incontinence with continued low back pain. AR418. Ms.
Viessman reported that a prior epidural injection had worked
really well and that she wanted to receive additional shots.
AR418. Physical examination revealed normal range of motion,
reflexes, muscle tone, and coordination, and her lumbar back
exhibited tenderness, pain and spasm. AR420. Mental status
examination revealed normal behavior, judgment and thought
content, and her mood was anxious and depressed. AR420.
her hysterectomy, her abdominal pain had improved, but her
back pain continued with Percocet prescribed for pain. AR379.
Viessman was seen for another intake session at Sioux Falls
Psychological Services on July 7, 2016, and her affect was
labile, mood depressed and anxious, and her thought processes
were inhibited by her anxiety, which in combination with her
depression, made it difficult for her to leave her home. She
was also unable to work. AR369-70.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on July 11, 2016,
for increased depression, and she was unable to be around
people. AR375. Her Lexapro was discontinued, Celexa was
prescribed, and her Klonopin dosage was increased. AR377.
Viessman was seen at Sanford Acute Care on July 20, 2016, for
bilateral hip and low back pain, which was worse since her
hysterectomy. AR735. She reported numbness in the hip area in
addition to pain, as well as numbness and tingling in her low
back. AR735. Examination revealed tenderness across her low
back, bilateral hips, and buttocks. AR735. Toradol was given,
and also a few Percocet. AR735.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on July 28, 2016,
with ongoing low back pain, and she reported the Percocet was
not helping her pain. AR731. Examination revealed tenderness
and decreased range of motion in the hips, tenderness, pain,
and spasm in the lumbar back, and depressed mood. AR734.
Toradol was given and additional Percocet prescribed. AR734.
Viessman was seen at Sanford Hospital on August 5, 2016,
after her low back pain was exacerbated by a fall on her
Viessman saw Dr. Boetel at Sanford Physical Medicine on
August 23, 2016, for her hip and back pain. AR720.
Examination revealed antalgic gait, lumbar and sacral sulcus
tenderness, normal hip rotation, but with pain, and physical
therapy was recommended. AR721.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on September 21,
2016, and had been sick for over 10 days with cough and
congestion, and she had not started PT for her back, stating
she didn't think she could do PT if her pain was not
under control. AR714. She also reported her anxiety and
depression were worse and she was having problems
communicating and going out of her house, and being compliant
with her job. AR714. Ms. Viessman was given a stronger
antibiotic, pain medication, and counseling was recommended.
Viessman was seen for PT on October 5, 2016, and examination
revealed moderate antalgic gait, limited range of motion with
pain, and pain with sit to and from stand. AR710. She was
found limited in her ability to walk, engage in prolonged
standing, and sleep. AR710.
Viessman was seen at the Sanford ER on October 7, 2016, after
her leg gave out while bending to pick something up and she
fell. AR705. Examination revealed right leg weakness with
pain when raising the right leg. AR708. A lumbar MRI and hip
x-ray were not acute and Viessman was told to follow-up with
her primary care physician for the exacerbation of a chronic
issue. AR709. The hip x-ray did reveal mild degenerative
Viessman followed up at USD Physicians Clinic on October 10,
2016, and reported a lot of weakness, worse pain and she was
using a cane. AR701. Continued PT was recommended and her
pain medication was continued. AR704.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on October 13,
2016, following a fall, and presented crying and in a
wheelchair. AR699. She was sent to the Sanford Orthopedic
walk-in clinic. AR699. She was crying in the exam room and
unable to be examined due to pain. AR699. Transfer to the ER
was recommended. AR699. A CT of her spine was obtained which
revealed no acute fractures or hardware changes in her prior
fusion, but showed diffuse sclerotic changes of the
sacroiliac joints which may be related to an element of
sacroiliitis. AR744-45. The ER gave her Toradol and
prescribed Neurontin. AR698.
Viessman was discharged from PT following two PT sessions and
one water therapy session when she missed her last
appointment on November 2, 2016. AR700.
Viessman was seen at USD Physicians Clinic on November 18,
2016, for tingling in her right arm and leg and twitching in
her right eye, and complained that she felt she may have
attention deficit disorder. AR684. She was scheduled for an
ADHD evaluation and EMG nerve conduction testing on upper and
lower extremities was also planned. AR686.
ADHD or mental health evaluation was done on November 21,
2016, at Sanford Family Medicine Clinic and the diagnoses
were anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, history of panic
attacks, and rule out personality disorder and ADHD, and she
was referred to Sanford Psychiatry for further evaluation.
AR682. Sanford Case Management initiated contact with Ms.
Viessman on November 29, 2016, and noted she continued to
ambulate with a cane. AR677.
Viessman was seen at Sanford Neurology on January 16, 2017,
for continued low back pain and increased intermittent
tingling in her right arm and right leg, numbness and
weakness in her right leg, and intermittent shaking in her
right arm. AR668. She also reported impaired gait, joint
pain, stiffness and swelling, and muscle pain in her low
back. AR668. Examination revealed limited strength test for
hips due to pain, decreased sensation to pinprick in upper
and lower extremities, reduced vibration sensation on the
right, unsteadiness with eyes closed, and antalgic gait with
unsteady tandem walk. AR671. Muscle bulk and tone were
normal. AR671. An x-ray revealed that the L1 through L4 disc
spaces appeared maintained. AR671. EMG nerve conduction
tests, physical therapy evaluation, head MRI, ENT referral
for hearing loss, and psychiatric referral for anxiety were
planned. AR672. The brain MRI was normal. AR665.
Viessman saw a psychiatrist at Sanford Psychiatric Clinic on
January 24, 2017, for depression and anxiety. AR819. She
reported that her grandfather had recently died, and she had
not spoken to her family since the prior May. AR819. Ms.
Viessman reported struggling with mood swings 2-3 times per
day, making impulsive decisions, anger, irritability, and
poor concentration and energy level. AR819. Examination
revealed Ms. Viessman was ambulating with a cane, had lost
one hundred pounds over the last year, experienced back pain,
appeared older than her age, was anxious, endorsed some
paranoia, and her insight and judgment were fair. AR822. Her
diagnoses included anxiety disorder, and differential of
Bipolar 2, unspecified mood disorder. AR822. Seroquel was
added to her Lexapro, Klonopin, and Neurontin, and individual
therapy was encouraged. AR822.
Viessman had an MR angiogram of her neck on January 26, 2017,
that was normal. AR737. Ms. Viessman had a brain MRI
performed on January 25, 2017, which was normal. AR739-40.
Viessman saw a psychologist at Sanford Psychiatric Clinic on
February 6, 2017, and reported she had been unable to start
taking Seroquel because she could not afford it. AR827.
Examination revealed disturbed sleep, up and down mood,
anger, back pain, fair to good memory, insight and judgment.
AR828-29. Ms. Viessman's PHQ-9 score indicated severe
depression. AR829. The diagnoses were major depression,
anxiety, and rule out personality disorder, and additional
therapy was planned. AR830. Ms. Viessman continued therapy
with her third session on May 12, 2017. AR823. Her rule out
personality diagnoses had been updated to unspecified
personality disorder. AR833.
Viessman saw her psychiatrist at Sanford Psychiatric Clinic
on May 23, 2017, and reported worsening depression and
anxiety. AR835. Her Lexapro medication was stopped and
Cymbalta was added for depression, anxiety and chronic pain;
trazodone was also prescribed. AR836.
Viessman was seen at the Sanford ER on June 19, 2017,
presenting with a panic attack after stopping her medications
a week earlier. AR781. She had contacted her psychiatric
doctor and her pain doctor and they told her to resume her
medications and go to the ER. AR781. Ms. Viessman was taking
Percocet and Neurontin. AR781. Examination revealed
tenderness and pain in her low back, but she had normal
strength and no swelling, edema, or neurological deficits.
AR787. Examiners also noted anxious mood, rapid pressured
speech, agitation, and that Ms. Viessman was crying. AR787.
Ativan, Zofran, Toradol, Oxycodone, Valium, and Fentanyl were
administered. AR787-78. Her diagnoses were opioid withdrawal,
panic attack, and having stopped her recommended medications.
Viessman saw her psychiatrist at Sanford Psychiatric Clinic
on June 27, 2017, and reported she had restarted her
medications on June 20, 2017. AR839. She reported high
anxiety and feeling anxious leaving her home and being in
public places or talking to people. AR839. She also reported
depressed mood with feelings of hopelessness and suicidal
ideation without any plan. AR839. Ms. Viessman said her
energy level was variable with some days very high and others
very low, and her concentration was poor. AR839. Her
assessments were anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder,
bipolar II disorder, and a differential diagnosis of
unspecified mood disorder. AR840. Her Cymbalta dosage was
increased and counseling encouraged.
Viessman was seen at the Sanford ER on July 17, 2017, with
exacerbated low back pain after tripping over a hole and
falling. AR789. Examination revealed low back tenderness,
pain and reduced range of motion, and Ms. Viessman was
ambulating with a cane. AR789.
Viessman saw a new psychiatrist at Sanford Psychiatric Clinic
on August 1, 2017, and reported worsening depression and
anxiety after stopping Cymbalta about one month earlier due
to being unable to afford it; being unemployed and without
insurance. AR843. Ms. Viessman said she had severe withdrawal
symptoms and was fearful of taking another similar
medication. AR843. She reported looking for a therapist at
Carroll Institute because she did not feel there was a good
working relationship with her psychologist at Sanford. AR843.
Ms. Viessman continued to report suicidal ideations without
any plan. AR844. The diagnoses were modified to bipolar II
versus major depression with psychotic features versus
personality traits. AR845. Prozac was prescribed, her
Trazodone dosage increased and counseling encouraged. AR845.
Psychological testing should be considered if Ms. Viessman
obtained insurance in the future. AR845.
Viessman saw another new psychiatrist at Sanford Psychiatric
Clinic on September 25, 2017, and reported the Prozac had
caused severe sedation and was switched to Lexapro about one
week prior. AR847. Sandra Peynado, M.D., noted that Ms.
Viessman made good eye contact, exhibited normal psychomotor
activity, and denied suicidal ideation and hallucinations.
AR851. Dr. Peynado also noted no impairment in cognition,
intact memory, and fair insight and judgment. AR851. Dr.
Peynado's diagnoses included generalized anxiety
disorder, social anxiety disorder with agoraphobia, and
bipolar disorder type II and her differential diagnoses
included cluster B traits, major depressive disorder
recurrent and paranoid personality disorder. AR851.
Viessman saw the psychiatrist again on October 23, 2017, and
reported ongoing depression without help from the medication,
and financial struggles and no insurance; she had not been to
counseling. AR853. Ms. Viessman reported feeling tired on
Lexapro and spending most of the days watching TV on the
couch with no motivation. AR853. Electroconvulsive therapy
(ECT) was planned for her resistant depressive symptoms, and
her other medications were continued. AR854.
Viessman saw the psychiatrist again on January 30, 2018, but
the treatment note does not mention ECT treatment or whether
it was performed. AR857.
Consultative Physical Examination
Viessman was referred to Dr. Lichter by the state agency for
a disability exam on October 10, 2016. AR642. She reported
working part-time at a hotel and said it “keeps her
sane” because it gets her out of the house, but it does
aggravate her mental and physical health. AR642. Ms. Viessman
explained that she experienced a lot of anxiety at work and
felt like she might snap at customers, and that sitting
during her 4-6 hour shift at the front desk hurt her back,
but they do let her sit. AR642-43. Ms. Viessman reported that
for her back she was in physical therapy, taking Percocet for
pain, and a recent MRI showed her back was stable, and also
that her primary care physician had completed a form for her
to get a handicap sticker. AR643. She reported that being in
one position too long makes her pain worse, and she can only
sit or stand for 10 minutes at a time, had increased weakness
in her right leg, used a cane to walk, could not stoop, climb
or kneel, could only lift up to 10 pounds and avoided any
activity which might flare up her back. AR643. Examination
revealed tenderness over the lumbar and sacral regions,
muscle spasm on the right side, positive straight leg raise
at 30 degrees on the right and 45 degrees on the left,
strength at 4 out of 5 in bilateral lower extremities,
decreased sensation in the right leg, reduced range of motion
secondary to pain, increased pain with internal and external
rotation of both hips, walks with a limp, and utilized a cane
for ambulation. AR644. Dr. Lichter suspected the decreased
strength was due to pain. AR644. Dr. Lichter's physical
diagnosis was chronic low back pain with right radiculopathy.
AR644. Dr. Lichter stated that based on her objective exam
findings Ms. Viessman would be limited to lifting and
carrying 10 pounds occasionally and no more at any time, and
Ms. Viessman would have difficulty standing, walking, or
sitting during an 8-hour workday, but she would do better if
allowed to change positions frequently. AR644. Dr. Lichter
stated Ms. Viessman could not stoop, climb, or kneel. AR644.
Dr. Lichter stated the prognosis for Ms. Viessman's
chronic low back pain was poor as she had already had surgery
and injections. AR644. Dr. Lichter invited questions and
provided her phone number. AR644.
Consultative Psychological Examination
Viessman was referred to psychologist, Dr. VanKley, by the
state agency for a disability exam on October 21, 2016.
AR652. Ms. Viessman reported that she was working 20 hours
per week at the time. AR654. Dr. VanKley observed Ms.
Viessman to have an anxious and depressed mood with congruent
affect, and she conveyed a strong sense of being overwhelmed
with various difficulties and viewing disability benefits as
her only means of subsistence. AR655. Dr. VanKley stated that
despite Ms. Viessman's emotional distress, she was
cooperative and appeared to respond in a forthright manner,
so the results provide a reasonable indication of her
functioning. AR655. Examination revealed a depressed and
anxious mood with several occasions of tearfulness. AR655.
Dr. VanKley diagnosed panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive
disorder, depression, and personality disorder, and he
assessed Ms. Viessman's GAF at 45. AR658. Dr. VanKley
stated the results of his evaluation indicated Ms. Viessman
indeed struggled with a combination of anxiety and
mood-related problems, and her panic disorder made it
difficult to venture into the public; symptoms of
obsessive-compulsive disorder consumed an inordinate amount
of time; and her existence was dominated by anxiety, which
contributed to her depression, which was “readily
evident during the clinical interview.” AR658. Dr.
VanKley stated her impairments interfered with her ability to
get along with people, and she became highly reactive to
interpersonal conflict. AR659. Dr. VanKley did not recommend
a representative payee for Ms. Viessman's disability
benefits, noting she was anxiously meticulous about such
State Agency Assessments
Viessman's case was reviewed at the initial level on
November 16, 2016, and the state agency physician found that
she had severe disorders of the back-discogenic and
degenerative. AR113, 122. The physician found Ms. Viessman
could lift 10 pounds occasionally, and less than 10 pounds
frequently, stand and/or walk two hours of an 8-hour workday,
sit about six hours of an 8-hour workday, and that she had
additional postural limitations. AR118. The agency physician
stated Ms. Viessman's statements about intensity,
persistence and functionally limiting effects of her symptoms
were substantiated by the objective medical evidence alone.
AR116. The agency physician noted findings from the
consultative physical exam, but did not explain why they
failed to adopt all of the limitations noted. AR116.
Viessman's file was reviewed by a state agency physician
at the reconsideration level on February 6, 2017, and the
reconsideration level physician made identical findings,
including that Ms. Viessman's statements about intensity,
persistence and functionally limiting effects of her symptoms
were substantiated by the objective medical evidence alone.
The State agency physician at the reconsideration level again
noted the findings from the consultative physical exam, but
again did not explain why he failed to adopt all of the
limitations noted. AR146-49.
her psychological limitations, Ms. Viessman's file was
reviewed at the initial level on November 28, 2016, by a
“single decision maker” or SDM who found Ms.
Viessman had severe affective disorder, severe anxiety
disorder, and severe personality disorder. AR113, 115. The
SDM found that she had mild restrictions in activities of
daily living, moderate difficulties in maintaining social
functioning and moderate difficulties in maintaining
concentration, persistence or pace. AR114. The SDM noted
results from the consultative psychological evaluator who had
assessed Ms. Viessman's GAF at 45, but did not discuss
any of the findings. The SDM more specifically found Ms.
Viessman moderately limited in carrying out detailed
instructions, maintaining attention and concentration for
extended times, working with others, interacting
appropriately with the public, and traveling in unfamiliar
places or using public transportation. AR118-20. The SDM
stated Ms. Viessman's anxiety will lead to periods of
reduced concentration, but she would be able to follow simple
instructions. AR119. The SDM also stated Ms. Viessman would
have difficulty with increased social demands and
interpersonal conflict leading to the need for brief breaks.
AR119. The SDM stated Ms. Viessman retained the ability to
engage in simple, routine and repetitive work in environments
with limited social demands and interactions with the public.
state agency psychological consultant at the reconsideration
stage reviewed the file on February 7, 2017, and made similar
findings as prepared by the SDM at the initial level. AR144,
149-51. The consultant at the reconsideration level was a
Testimony at the ALJ Hearing
Ms. Viessman's Testimony
Viessman testified that she was 5'7” tall and
weighed 195 pounds, but has lost 115 pounds in the last four
years, and she was right-handed. AR80.
Viessman testified that she worked at Fit My Feet part-time
but stopped because of “all the crap in my head”
and her back situation, which limits her to not standing more
than 20 or 30 minutes. AR81-82. Ms. Viessman testified that
her last work was at a hotel where she had an
“explosion.” AR86. She explained that she became
super mad, super aggravated, people were coming in and she
just couldn't contain “the shut off in my brain to
be safe, or like, are they going to hurt me….”
AR86. She said she was scared of new people which is why she
maybe left her home five or eight times this whole year.
AR86, 88. Ms. Viessman said, “Like if I open the door
it's like - if I see somebody on the street and I happen
to step outside, it feels like Flash Gordon coming right at
me; like what are they going to do to me. You know? So I go
back in and lock the doors and don't move.” AR87.
Viessman testified that one day when she was home alone
somebody knocked on the door and she ran and hid in the
Viessman testified, “But I want to be fixed. I've
always worked. You know, I worked hard. And I don't know.
I wish I could just pound it out. Like I go to bed and it
just turns and turns and turns about stuff that I have like
no control over or --.” AR100.
Viessman testified her psychiatrist recommended
electroconvulsive therapy, but she couldn't ...