United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY J. KELLY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Marie Katz (the “Claimant”), appeals from a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”), denying her application for
disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Doc.
Nos. 1, 22. Claimant alleges a disability onset date of
August 5, 2014. R. 10. Claimant argues that the decision
should be reversed because of the following: 1) the ALJ
failed to consider Claimant's diagnosis of borderline
personality disorder (“BPD”); and 2) the
ALJ's finding that Claimant did not suffer any severe
mental impairments was not supported by substantial evidence.
Doc. No. 22. For the reasons stated below, the ALJ's
final decision is AFFIRMED.
Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(2010). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla-i.e.,
the evidence must do more than merely create a suspicion of
the existence of a fact and must include such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support the conclusion. Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d
1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982);
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
Where the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, the District Court will affirm, even if
the reviewer would have reached a contrary result as finder
of fact, and even if the reviewer finds that the evidence
preponderates against the Commissioner's decision.
Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th
Cir. 1991); Barnes v. Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358
(11th Cir. 1991). The Court must view the evidence as a
whole, considering evidence that is favorable as well as
unfavorable to the decision. Foote, 67 F.3d at 1560.
The District Court “‘may not decide the facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for
that of the [Commissioner].'” Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239
(11th Cir. 1983)).
Two, the ALJ found that Claimant had the following severe
impairments: anemia and a history of dysfunctional uterine
bleeding. R. 12. The ALJ noted that Claimant also alleged
depression and attention deficit disorder
(“ADHD”). R. 13. The ALJ considered the opinions
of two examining and two non-examining state agency experts
regarding Claimant's mental impairments and weighed them.
R. 13-14, 17-18. The ALJ considered Claimant's GAF score
of 50 from December 2012. R. 14. The ALJ further considered
Claimant's medical records from treating physicians which
reflected a lack of treatment, her refusal to take medication
or engage in therapy, and a lack of reported symptoms. R.
completing a consultative examination, Dr. Paulillo diagnosed
Claimant with BPD and depression but was unable to give a
prognosis because of the questionable validity of the
information Claimant provided. R. 333. At this evaluation, Dr.
Paulillo reported that Claimant stated she is capable of
“eating, dressing, bathing, sitting, standing, walking,
reading, cooking, using the telephone, doing laundry, and
cleaning for herself, ‘depending on whether I am
sick.' (in a weak or heavy bleeding cycle).” R.
333. Dr. Paulillo found that Claimant did not appear to
complete tasks in a timely manner based on her verbal history
and interview behavior and that Claimant demonstrated the
ability to follow simple 1-2 step instructions, which require
understanding and memory. R. 333. Dr. Paulillo also observed
that Claimant “appeared to have difficulty focusing and
concentrating during our interactions, although some of this
appeared deliberate” and Claimant “appeared to
attempt to present herself in an overly symptomatic
manner.” R. 330. Dr. Paulillo reported that
“Given [certain] inconsistencies, the validity and
reliability of the information provided by Ms[.] Katz during
this evaluation appears questionable.” R. 330. With
respect to her prognosis, Dr. Paulillo indicated that she
reasonably provide a prognosis due to the questionable
validity of the information provided by Ms. Katz. Ms. Katz
has a pattern of maladaptive dramatic behaviors and has
likely become used to a moderate level of distress, as
evidenced by her refusal to comply with certain psychiatric
medication recommendations. It is unlikely she will be
motivated to affect change.
diagnoses of BPD and depression were listed as severe in the
Social Security Disability Determination and Transmittal
prepared by non-examining expert Dr. Sandrik. R. 88, 90. Dr.
Sandrik found that Claimant would have moderate difficulties
in maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace and in
social functioning. R. 88. Similarly, on reconsideration, Dr.
Rudmann also found Claimant would have moderate difficulties
in maintaining social functioning and concentration,
persistence, and pace. R. 106. However, both non-examining
experts acknowledged the concerns expressed by Dr. Paulillo
about Claimant's behavior at her consultative
psychological examination, and the fact that Dr. Paulillo was
unable to provide a prognosis. R. 88, 90, 106. Dr. Cooper
examined Claimant approximately nine days after Dr. Paulillo.
At that time, Dr. Cooper also noted Claimant's history of
depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and ADHD but observed
upon examination that she was not emotionally distressed, was
pleasant, cooperative, and that there was no evidence of
anxiety or depression. R. 336-37.
Cooper provided the following “functional
assessment/medical source statement”:
Within the limits of her education, training, and experience,
she should have no difficulties with work-related mental
activities involving understanding and memory, sustained
concentration and persistence, social interaction and
R. 339. Dr. Cooper noted “no anxiety or depression,
” that Claimant “followed requests quickly and
appropriately” and her “[t]hought processes were
logical, sequential, and goal directed.” R. 339.
gave little weight to all but Dr. Cooper's opinion with
respect to Claimant's mental abilities because Dr.
Paulillo could not offer a prognosis for Claimant and because
the other opinions did not track with other record evidence,
specifically a lack of treatment for mental illness and no
reports of depressive symptoms in Claimant's treatment
records. R. 13-14, 17-18. The ALJ found that “the
moderate limitations [suggested by Drs. Sandrik and Rudmann]
are not consistent with the lack of treatment, the refusal to
take medications, the invalid examinations, and the negative
clinical signs.” R. 14. ...