United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
Barbara B. Crabb, District Judge.
Troy Green is seeking review of a final decision denying his
claim for disability insurance benefits under the Social
Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff contends
that he has been disabled since March 2013 because of a
combination of physical and mental impairments. An
administrative law judge concluded that even though plaintiff
has severe impairments, he is not disabled because he can
perform a reduced range of light work for which there are a
significant number of jobs in the national economy. Plaintiff
contends that the administrative law judge erred by not
admitting into evidence an opinion from plaintiff's
treating physician, failing to give proper weight to the
opinions of plaintiff's treating physician that were in
the record and failing to account for plaintiff's mental
impairments in assessing his residual functional capacity.
For the reasons explained below, I am not persuaded by
plaintiff's arguments. Therefore, I will affirm the
acting commissioner's decision.
following facts are drawn from the administrative record
Social Security Application and Background
Troy Green was born in 1975. He filed for disability
insurance benefits in June 2014, contending that he was
disabled by depression, anxiety, non-epileptic seizures and
dyslexia. AR 178, 203. His application was denied initially
and on reconsideration, and plaintiff requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge . AR 76, 110, 125. After
the hearing, the administrative law judge issued a written
decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled. AR 16.
In May 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review. AR 1.
Medical Treatment for Mental Health
plaintiff's appeal relates only to limitations caused by
his mental impairments, I will not discuss records relating
to his physical impairments.
has a history of depression, anxiety and non-epileptic
seizures. In March 2013, plaintiff was hospitalized for a
seizure and was treated with an anti-seizure medication. AR
304-05. His condition improved within a few days and at
follow up appointments, he reported no further seizures. AR
309-17. Laboratory imaging studies and physical examinations
at the hospital were generally normal. Id.
2014, plaintiff saw a family practice physician with
complaints of worsening depression. AR 350. He reported that
he was involved in a custody dispute, was taking care of his
children and was crying a lot. Id. The doctor
increased his Zoloft. Id. A few days later,
plaintiff saw Dr. Jeffrey Eichten, another family practice
physician, with complaints of seizure activity, stress,
anxiety and chronic pain. AR 347. Plaintiff told Dr. Eichten
that he had had a seizure in family court after the judge
told him he could lose his parental rights. He was taken to
the hospital, where he reported that he had been skipping
some of his medications and a toxicology screen was positive
for four drugs that he had not been prescribed. AR 411-21.
Plaintiff requested that Dr. Eichten prescribe narcotics and
benzodiazepines, but Eichten declined because plaintiff has a
history of polysubstance abuse. AR 348. Eichten increased
plaintiff's gabapentin and anti-anxiety medications.
June and August 2014, plaintiff had five sessions of mental
health counseling. AR 387-395. His counseling sessions
addressed life stressors, including his relationships,
parenting, moving in with his brother and drinking.
Id. Plaintiff also saw a neurologist in July 2014
for pseudoseizures. AR 401-03. The neurologist told plaintiff
that because his seizures were unrelated to epilepsy, the
doctor could not treat the condition and that plaintiff
needed cognitive behavioral therapy or other mental health
therapy. Id. Plaintiff was taken off anti-seizure
July 2014, plaintiff had a consultative examination with
Travis Hinze, PhD. AR 494-498. Hinze noted that plaintiff
appeared to be “mildly-to-moderately depressed, ”
with mildly slow mental activity and a borderline “fund
of knowledge.” Id. Hinze diagnosed a major
depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, stimulant use disorder
in remission, cannabis use disorder and suspected borderline
intellectual functioning. Hinze concluded that plaintiff had
moderate impairments in several areas of mental functioning.
August 2014, plaintiff was admitted to a hospital for
depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. AR 453. He
reported that his living situation was stressful and that he
had been drinking up to a 12-pack of beer a day and smoking
marijuana every day that he could afford it. AR 453-57. He
was prescribed bupropion and was discharged after two days of
being in a stable condition. AR 451. Plaintiff saw Dr.
Eichten a week later for a follow up appointment and
continued to report anxiety and depression. AR 469.
saw Eichten again for depression, anxiety and hip pain in
September and October 2014. AR 472, 76-77. He asked Dr.
Eichten to write a letter stating he was psychologically
stable and able to care for his children. Eichten wrote the
letter, as well as another letter stating that plaintiff
could not work because of physical pain. AR 476-77. At a
December 2014 appointment, plaintiff reported that his mental
health was stable with ...