REBECCA S. DAVIDSON APPELLANT
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 01/06/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. TOMIE T.
GREEN, TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN T. BALL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, JANE
GRIFFIS, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.
In 2013, Rebecca Davidson applied for and was granted
non-duty-related disability benefits from the Public
Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS). In
2014, PERS reexamined Davidson's claim, and the PERS
medical board recommended that her benefits should be
terminated because she was physically and mentally capable of
returning to her employment. Davidson appealed to the PERS
disability appeals committee (DAC), and the DAC also found
that she was capable of returning to work and that her
benefits should be terminated. The PERS board of trustees
adopted the proposed opinion and recommendation of the DAC
and denied her request for continued benefits. Davidson then
appealed to the Hinds County Circuit Court, First Judicial
District, which affirmed the decision of the board of
trustees. Davidson appealed again to this Court, arguing that
the agency's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence. Because PERS's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Davidson is a state employee with twelve years of state
service. She was last employed as the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator at the Natchez branch of
Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Co-Lin). Her job involved
meeting with students to determine their eligibility for
assistance, conferring with instructors about students'
needs, and monitoring students' progress. She was
responsible for about fifteen students.
¶3. Davidson testified that in 2012 she began to miss
work frequently because of mental health issues and
"difficulties at home." She testified that she
eventually sought treatment for her mental health issues at
St. Dominic's Hospital in Jackson because she was having
suicidal thoughts. She testified that she was evaluated and
that outpatient treatment was recommended. Davidson attended
outpatient therapy with Dr. William Cook, a psychiatrist, for
seventeen weeks starting in July 2012. Dr. Cook diagnosed
Davidson with post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, and
bipolar disorder. Davidson continued to see Dr. Cook
periodically thereafter. Initially, she saw Dr. Cook every
other week, but later she saw him only once per month, and at
the time of the hearing in this matter she saw him only once
every three months.
It appears that Davidson did not return to work at Co-Lin
after July 2012. She terminated her employment at Co-Lin on
December 10, 2012, and applied with PERS for non-duty-related
disability benefits in January 2013. At the time, Dr. Cook
certified that, in his opinion, Davidson was "unable to
work at all" due to her mental health issues, severe
mood swings, anxiety, depression, and difficulty
concentrating. In her application, Davidson stated that she
was unable to do anything "involving memory" or
"being around people."
On April 25, 2013, PERS approved Davidson's application
for non-duty-related disability with a reexamination after
one year pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section
25-11-113(3) (Supp. 2014).
In May 2013, Davidson presented at St. Dominic's
emergency room. She exhibited symptoms of depression and
expressed suicidal thoughts. In July 2013, Davidson was
approved for Social Security disability benefits. That month
she began seeing family therapist Mary Ann Simmons. She also
continued to see Dr. Cook periodically. She testified that
she became depressed and suicidal again in January 2014.
On April 24, 2014, PERS informed Davidson that her disability
claim was scheduled for reevaluation and requested that she
submit updated medical information and forms from her
treating physicians. On June 12, 2014, Dr. Cook completed an
updated "Statement of Examining Physician" (PERS
Form DSBL 7). Dr. Cook indicated a primary diagnosis of
"mild" bipolar disorder and a secondary diagnosis
of "mild" ADHD. Dr. Cook further indicated that
Davidson had reached maximum medical improvement, that she
had no impairments or restrictions due to her condition, and
that her prognosis for recovery was good. After ...