United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Knepp II United States Magistrate Judge
Patterson (“Patterson”) filed a Complaint against
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) on behalf of her son, L.P.
(“Plaintiff”), seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to deny supplemental security
income (“SSI”). (Doc. 1). The district court has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c). The parties
consented to the undersigned's exercise of jurisdiction
in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Civil Rule 73.
(Doc. 14). For the reasons stated below, the undersigned
affirms the decision of the Commissioner.
first filed an application for SSI on behalf of her son in
February 2011. (Tr. 64). An administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) denied that application in a written
decision in March 2012. (Tr. 64-84). In October 2012,
Patterson filed a second application for SSI on behalf of
Plaintiff, alleging a disability onset date of November 1,
2010. (Tr. 145-53). The claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 110-12, 116-18). Patterson then
requested a hearing before an ALJ. (Tr. 119). On July 3,
2014, Patterson (represented by counsel) appeared and
testified in Cleveland, Ohio, at a hearing before the ALJ.
(Tr. 39-60). On July 23, 2014, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled in a written decision. (Tr. 16-38). In December
2015, the Appeals Council denied Patterson's request for
review, making the hearing decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.955,
404.981. Patterson filed the instant action on behalf of
Plaintiff on January 19, 2016. (Doc. 1).
and Medical Evidence
to the First ALJ Decision In December 2009, Plaintiff
was referred to Beech Brook by his teacher due to disruptive,
aggressive, and hyperactive classroom behavior. (Tr. 399,
410). A mental status examination by social worker Amy Lee
revealed decreased impulse control, decreased frustration
tolerance, reduced eye contact, psychomotor restlessness,
impaired concentration, and impaired ability to focus. (Tr.
409). Plaintiff was assessed with oppositional defiant
disorder (“ODD”) and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”). (Tr. 410).
February 2010, Beech Brook psychiatrist Thomas D. Eppright,
M.D., diagnosed Plaintiff with ADHD, and noted a need to rule
out a learning disability. (Tr. 329). Dr. Eppright stated
Plaintiff had “[s]ignificant impulsivity,
distractibility, and hyperactivity”. Id. He
started Plaintiff on a trial of Adderall and recommended
Plaintiff continue the school based program through Beech
February 2011, Patterson reported to social worker Deborah
Casciato that Plaintiff had poor academic performance, a
short attention span, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and
oppositional behavior toward adults. (Tr. 281). Ms. Casciato
referred Plaintiff for a mental health assessment with a
April 2011, Patterson reported medications helped Plaintiff
significantly, but she was concerned about his appetite. (Tr.
270). The pediatrician noted he had “consistent weight
gain and height velocity” with “[n]o drastic
changes” and suggested nutritional supplements, as well
as strategies to increase caloric intake. (Tr. 270-71).
November 2011 treatment plan through Beech Brook contained
diagnoses of ODD, ADHD, and a learning disorder not otherwise
specified. (Tr. 310). The plan indicated Plaintiff was in
first grade, in special education classes, and did not note
any disciplinary problems at school. (Tr. 321). Social worker
Bridgid Ratcliffe noted Plaintiff had made minimal progress
in his goals of expressing feelings appropriately and using
coping strategies. (Tr. 323). Although noting minimal
progress toward the goals of attending psychiatric
assessments and evaluation sessions and receiving medical
intervention, Ms. Ratcliffe wrote: “Doing well on
meds.” Id. In summary, she noted:
“Overall, we have seen minimal improvement with
[Plaintiff].” (Tr. 324).
November 2011, Dr. Eppright noted Plaintiff was “doing
well” and medication (Vyvanse) had been beneficial.
decision dated March 22, 2012, the first ALJ found Plaintiff
had severe impairments of ADHD and ODD. (Tr. 67). That ALJ
concluded Plaintiff was not disabled because although he had
a marked limitation in interacting and relating with others,
he had less than marked, or no limitation, in the other
functional domains. See Tr. 76-84.
to the First ALJ Decision
2012, Patterson reported to Plaintiff's pediatrician,
Sophia Orraca-Tetteh, M.D., that Plaintiff would repeat
second grade that year. (Tr. 335). The pediatrician noted
Plaintiff was in a program at Beech Brook for ADHD and
behavior, and that he was “[r]eceiving therapy and
counseling and on one medication and doing well.”
Brook review the following month by Kimberly Fuller, LSW,
indicated Plaintiff had made minimal progress toward most
goals. (Tr. 387-94). She noted “some progress as
evidenced by decreased hyperactivity and impulsivity while on
medication for the school year” and “minimal
progress as evidenced by his ability to use at least 2 coping
skills; however, he is unable to use these consistently or
without prompting.” (Tr. 389). He was noted to be
“improved” in his ability to “connect how
he is felling to his actions.” (Tr. 390). On the parent
version of an assessment, Plaintiff's problem severity
decreased by thirteen points, and had a six point increase in
functioning. (Tr. 391). On the social worker's version,
he had a two point increase in problem severity and a nine
point increase in functioning. Id.
August 2012, Dr. Eppright noted Plaintiff was doing well on
his medication and that Patterson was “pleased with
response to medication.” (Tr. 395). His impression was
that Plaintiff was “[m]aking progress”.
in October 2012, Dr. Eppright noted Plaintiff had “been
doing quite well” on Vyvanse, despite some appetite
decrease. (Tr. 434). Patterson reported the school had noted
significant improvement in his ability to concentrate.
Id. Dr. Eppright recommended Plaintiff skip his
medication on the weekends to counteract the decreased
appetite side effect. Id.
December 2012, Patterson reported an increase in
Plaintiff's ADHD symptoms that both she and the school
had noticed. (Tr. 433). Dr. Eppright increased
Plaintiff's Vyvanse dosage. Id.
Brook review in January 2013 of Plaintiff's treatment
plan indicated continuing diagnoses of ODD, ADHD, and
learning disorder. (Tr. 413). Ms. Fuller noted Plaintiff had
been suspended twice in five months for disrupting his class
and a fight with peers. (Tr. 424). She noted that he
“has only been reported to have significant challenges
when in his special education classroom” and that he
“has made progress at home, but has continued to have
challenges at school with his special education
teacher.” (Tr. 424-25). Ms. Fuller noted Plaintiff had
improved his behavior toward Patterson and his primary
education teacher, but “struggles on a daily basis to
respect his special education teacher, and as a result has
minimally increased his knowledge from the first
grade.” (Tr. 428). She noted Plaintiff's behavior
improved on medication, but the medication appeared to have
slowed his thinking process. Id.
that same month, Dr. Eppright noted “significant
improvement” in impulsivity, hyperactivity, and
distractibility with the increased Vyvanse dosage, with no
side effects. (Tr. 432). Plaintiff told Dr. Eppright he liked
school and believed he was making progress. Id. Dr.
Eppright's impression was Plaintiff was “[d]oing
well.” Id. That same day, Dr. Eppright
completed a form indicating Plaintiff had marked limitations
in acquiring and using information, caring for self, health
and physical well-being, attending and completing tasks, and
interacting and relating with others. (Tr. 436-38). He also
indicated Plaintiff had a moderate limitation in moving about
and manipulating objects. (Tr. 438).
2013, Ms. Fuller completed a questionnaire in which she
indicated Plaintiff had marked limitations in acquiring and
using information, attending and completing tasks,
interacting and relating with others, and caring for self.
(Tr. 468-69). She also indicated Plaintiff had moderate
limitations in moving about and manipulating objects, and
health and physical well-being. (Tr. 469-70). Ms. Fuller
noted Plaintiff's medication “sometimes delays his
processing of material and verbal output of
information.” (Tr. 470).
November 2013, Dr. Eppright again completed a questionnaire,
this time indicating Plaintiff had extreme limitations in
acquiring and using information, attending and completing
tasks, interacting and relating with others, and caring for
self. (Tr. 472-74). He also indicated Plaintiff had a marked
limitation in health and physical well-being, and no
limitation in moving about and manipulating objects. (Tr.
February 2014, social worker Jasmine Merriweather, LSW,
completed a review of Plaintiff's treatment plan for
Beech Brook. (Tr. 485-502). Ms. Merriweather noted Patterson
reported Plaintiff “is more compliant in being
cooperative and following directions” and that calls
from the school were less frequent. (Tr. 496). She described
minimal progress, noting Plaintiff “continues to show
signs of poor cooperation, inability to follow directions,
maintaining focus and ge[t]s easily frustrated”, but
had shown progress in “com[p]liance in cooperation
[and] following directions.” (Tr. 497).
March 2014, Plaintiff's pediatrician noted he was
“[e]ducationally very challenged” but
“[d]oing well [w]ith performance ...