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Carolyn Colvin and Social Security Medical Zombies

August 8, 2013

It’s been a while since ZombieLaw addressed the ongoing “zombies” in Federal Court opinions reviewing determinations of the Social Security Administration. Recall that because this word is relatively new, the previous Commissioner (Michael Astrue) faced the bulk of the “zombies”. Astrue has since retired, and Obama nominee Carolyn Colvin has been serving as the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration since February overseeing the agency through sequester cutbacks.

So far, there have been five opinions of Federal Courts that have used the word “zombie” with Ms. Colvin named as defendant (in her official capacity). So, Ms. Colvin, welcome to the zombie club.

zombie carolyn colvin ssa zombie astrue

DEBORAH ANN MCCASKILL – Case No. 12-CV-95-PJC – May 10, 2013 – Paul J. Cleary, United States Magistrate Judge – NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

She would sometimes take a Seroquel to stop “seeing these things” and to go to sleep, but the medication made her feel like a “zombie” the next day. Id.

JASMINE E. BYERLEY – CAUSE NO.: 1:12-CV-91-JEM – May 14, 2013 – John E. Martin, United States Magistrate Judge – NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA, FORT WAYNE DIVISION

Plaintiff testified she stopped taking some of the medications prescribed for various illnesses when she became pregnant or to avoid the “zombie” effect they cause.

TRACY OWEN PURDIN – CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12-cv-171-CSC (WO) – June 14, 2013 – Charles S. Coody, United States Magistrate Judge – MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION

Dr. Serravezza also noted that Purdin’s past medications included “antipsychotics and mood stabilizers” that Purdin “tried and rejected” because they made him feel like a “zombie – not [him]self.” In a treatment note dated May 9, 2009, Dr. Serravezza stated that Purdin “feels very appreciative of the Effexor for the suicidal thoughts. But having perceptual distortions. Will add Abilify.”

AARON L. TIMMONS – CIVIL ACTION NO. H-12-965 – July 10, 2013 – Frances H. Stacy, United States Magistrate Judge – SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS, HOUSTON DIVISION

Timmons and his mother testified. Denice Timmons, wrote: “… Aaron always was very quiet during our visits as if he was heavily medicated. He was like a [z]ombie and could not keep his tongue in his mouth.”

SANDRA KING – Case No. 11 C 2842 – July 31, 2013 – Jeffrey Cole, United States Magistrate Judge – NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION

Ms. King formerly had a problem with alcohol addiction, but hadn’t abused alcohol for a year before the hearing, aside from a shot on her niece’s birthday. She also formerly smoked crack, but had gone about two years with doing that. She also had experienced depression and treated with a psychiatrist at a clinic, who put her on Xanax. Ms. King said they made her like a zombie. She took them all, had to have her stomach pumped, and she never took them again. In a typical day, she would watch soap operas.

Only two of these cases were remanded for further proceedings.

On remand the issue for the Timmons case is to better develop the record regarding possible childhood onset of schizophrenia where there is no supporting medical evidence. There is non-medical evidence that Timmons may have had schizophrenia as a child and the Social Security Administration must consider that more thoroughly.

Byerley’s case is remanded for medical evidence about the applicant’s bipolar condition. The Administrative Law Judge did not specify exactly what claims were found exaggerated or not credible nor was there specific medical evidence about physical impairments and the role of obesity in connection with the mental illness. Citing SSR 02-1p:

“Obesity may also cause or contribute to mental impairments such as depression.”

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