United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DIJFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on United States Magistrate Judge
John K. Larkins III's Final Report and Recommendation
 (“R&R”). The R&R recommends that the
Court affirm the decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (the “Commissioner”)
denying Plaintiff Clara Elizabeth Beasley's
(“Plaintiff”) application for supplemental
security income. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's
Objections to the R&R .
December 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed her application for
supplemental security income alleging disability beginning
May 15, 2000. (Social Security Tr.  (“Tr.”)
268). The Commissioner's final decision on that
application was to deny benefits. (Tr. 133-144). Plaintiff
had a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on January 14, 2015. (Tr. 150-82). On
February 18, 2015, the ALJ issued its finding that Plaintiff
was not disabled. (Tr. 133-44). Plaintiff requested review of
the hearing decision, and on June 24, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied the request for review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 5-8).
Plaintiff then filed this civil action seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of benefits.
October 24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued the R&R,
recommending that the decision of the Commissioner be
affirmed. (). The Magistrate Judge found that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ articulation of “good
cause” for discounting the opinion of Plaintiff's
treating physician, Angel Luis Perez, MD (“Dr.
November 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed objections to the
Magistrate Judge's R&R. ().
was 30 years old at the onset of her alleged disability and
44 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 144,
341). She has held jobs at a wood plant, grocery store, and
fast-food restaurant. (Tr. 295). Plaintiff graduated from
high school, taking special education classes. (Tr. 171, 426,
February 23, 2013, Plaintiff, accompanied by her
roommate's sister, Lynette Bailey (“Bailey”),
was evaluated by consultative psychologist Cheryl A. Gratton,
Ph.D at the request of the Social Security Administration.
(Tr. 426-30, 427-28). Dr. Gratton extensively summarized the
interviews in her report. Dr. Gratton conducted a mental
status examination, which revealed that Plaintiff's
articulation was poor, and her speech was characterized by a
heavy regional dialect. (Tr. 428). There were no obvious
behavioral anomalies apart from malingering in the testing
portion of the evaluation. Her intelligence appeared to be
slightly, but not significantly, below average during
conversational speech. (Id.). Her speech was
“fluent, prosodic, and free from paraphasic
errors.” (Tr. 429). Dr. Gratton noted that Plaintiff
described a history of auditory hallucinations that was
“poorly substantiated.” Dr. Gratton described
Plaintiff's thought processes as “logical and
coherent” and her “rate of mentation” was
normal. Dr. Gratton noted that Plaintiff was unable to
comprehend abstraction, she was not oriented as to time,
place, or personal information, her aspects of memory
functioning appeared impaired, and her speed at task
performance was deficient. But Dr. Gratton also observed that
the severity of those limitations was dubious because
Plaintiff put forth only minimal effort during the
WAIS-IV testing, Plaintiff obtained a full-scale IQ of 52.
(Tr. 429). Dr. Gratton noted that Plaintiff did not appear to
be motivated to do well on the assessment and appeared to put
forth only minimal or inconsistent effort; thus, the results
likely slightly underestimate Plaintiff's overall
functioning. (Id.). Dr. Gratton also noted that a
test for malingering clearly indicated that she was
malingering. (Tr. 430).
Gratton diagnosed Plaintiff with malingering and assigned her
a GAF score of 65. (Tr. 430). Dr. Gratton summarized her
findings as follows:
[Plaintiff's] IQ is in the Defective range, but frank and
flagrant malingering during testing indicates that this is an
under-estimate of her actual level of functioning. The
psychometrist actually asked Ms. Beasley aloud if anyone had
coached her to perform poorly because her malingering was so
apparent. She denied this, but it is certainly plausible that
[Bailey] or her roommate may have coached her to do poorly.
Based on the results of this assessment, she finds it
generally easy to comprehend and carry out simple
instructions. She is not likely to be challenged by
difficulties getting along with others. Her attention is
sufficient for the execution of her day-to-day activities.
She would not be likely to decompensate under stressful
conditions. Her attention is such that timely completion of
tasks and assignments would not prove difficult. She is
capable of self-management of disability fund, if awarded, as
best can be determined.
March 25, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a consultative physical
examination with Tiffany S. Lee, M.D., at the request of the
Social Security Administration. (Tr. 432-34). Plaintiff
reported several mental impairments to Dr. Lee, including
difficulty with short and long-term memory, mood swings,
hearing voices, and depressive feelings and mood. (Tr. 432).
Dr. Lee indicated that Plaintiff was alert and oriented, did
not appear depressed or anxious, her mood and affect were
appropriate, her grooming was appropriate, and there was no
evidence of memory problems. (Tr. 434).
September 23, 2014, Plaintiff underwent a psychosocial
assessment with Dr. Perez. (Tr. 633, 650-656). During the
evaluation, Plaintiff reported that she had been on
medications before and felt that they were not working well,
but she could not recall which mediations she was taking.
(Tr. 651). She reported “extensive traumatic [history]
when she was young” but did not wish to speak of it.
She stated that she would have nightmares and flashbacks
three to four times per week. She also stated that when she
was a teenager she began to experience hallucinations telling
her to hurt herself and others but that she never acted on
the commands. She reported that she had been feeling
depressed since she was a teenager. She described her
motivation and energy as low, ...