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Ferryman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

May 22, 2017


          Walter H. Rice, District Judge


          Sharon L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff April Ferryman brings this case challenging the Social Security Administration's denial of her applications for period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income. She applied for benefits on November 28, 2012, asserting that she could no longer work a substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Christopher L. Dillon concluded that she was not eligible for benefits because she is not under a “disability” as defined in the Social Security Act.

         The case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #6), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #9), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #11), the administrative record (Doc. #5), and the record as a whole.

         Plaintiff seeks a remand of this case for payment of benefits or, at a minimum, for further proceedings. The Commissioner asks the Court to affirm ALJ Dillon's non-disability decision.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff asserts that she has been under a “disability” since November 1, 2012. (Doc. #5, PageID #275). She was twenty-seven years old at that time and was therefore considered a “younger person” under Social Security Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). She has a high school education. See Id. §§ 404.1564(b)(4), 416.964(b)(4).

         A. Plaintiff's Testimony

         Plaintiff testified at the hearing before ALJ Dillon that when she is depressed, she has days that she does not want to get up, leave her house, or do anything. (Doc. #5, PageID #80). If she is working and gets depressed, she calls in sick. Id. She also “go[es] through very different moods at a time.” Id. at 81. She explained that one word might change her mood from happy to angry within seconds. Id. Additionally, when something reminds her of her past, she either gets angry or starts crying. Id. When those episodes happen at work, she makes an excuse to leave early. Id. When she is uncomfortable around a person, “it freaks her out” and she has to go home or to a different area of her house. Id. at 83. Plaintiff was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Id. at 87. Her symptoms include racing thoughts and impulsive behavior. Id.

         Some of Plaintiff's mental health problems-specifically, her PTSD-worsened after the birth of her child. Id. at 83. Her PTSD, concern, and worry are related to being raped as a child. Id. at 84. For many years, she self-medicated with marijuana and cocaine but then she was arrested and stopped using drugs. Id. At the time of the hearing, she had been clean for just short of three years and three months. Id. at 84-85.

         Now that she is not using drugs, she has to deal with the kind of thoughts that bother her. Id. at 85. Her medication helps but “they're still there and [she] can't just do something to make [herself] forget.” Id.

         Due to childhood trauma, Plaintiff is uncomfortable leaving her child with men and only she or her mother care for her child. Id. at 83.

Q Am I to understand [] that [your fiancée] is the father of your child; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And yet you have issues in even allowing him to take care of his child?
A Yes.
Q Okay.
A To me, family is just as evil as a stranger.
Q That's how this all started for you, wasn't it?
A Yes.

Id. at 85.

         Plaintiff has several crying spells throughout the day. Id. She also isolates herself at least twice per day. Id. at 86. Before her daughter was born, she locked herself into her room for twelve hours at a time with her bed in front of the door so no one could get in. Id. Since her child was born, she isolates herself for two to three hours at one time. Id. During that time, her daughter is either with her or with her mom. Id.

         Plaintiff testified that she has asthma and two bulging discs in her lower back. Id. at 82. She also has problems with her left knee. Id. Her lower back pain began when she twenty years old, and she had an MRI in 2012. Id. at 88. She began having hip pain with tingling down her legs after her daughter was born in September 2013. Id. At the time of the hearing, she was in physical therapy. Id. at 83.

         Plaintiff is able to do dishes, but she sometimes has to leave them and come back later to finish them. Id. at 82. She does laundry occasionally. Id. However, if her anxiety escalates, she will leave clothes in the washer for several days and then will have to rewash them. Id. at 82-83. Plaintiff estimated that she can stand for approximately fifteen minutes at a time, walk one and one-half to two blocks at a time, sit for at least an hour, and has to watch lifting things over twenty-five pounds. Id. at 89. Further, her mood would prevent her from making it to work half the time. Id. at 90.

         Plaintiff worked part time as a cashier in January 2013. Id. at 81. She only worked four to four and one-half hours in a day. Id. When she had to run the cash register and make pizzas at the same time, she got overwhelmed and left things like the oven on. Id. She was let go when she began having pregnancy complications. Id. at 82.

         B. Medical Opinions

         i. Linda J. Griffith, M.D., Tracy Detwiler, PA-C, & Callie Hawkins, LISW-S

         In May 2014, Dr. Griffith, Ms. Detwiler, and Ms. Hawkins completed a mental impairment questionnaire. Id. at 581-84. They diagnosed Plaintiff with bipolar disorder, most recent episode unspecified; post-traumatic stress disorder; and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, combination type. Id. at 581. They assigned a global assessment of functioning (GAF) score of fifty-six. Id. Their clinical findings included depressed mood, flat affect, tearful, nightmares and flashbacks of past trauma, irritable, racing thoughts, and easily distracted. Id. at 582. Plaintiff's signs and symptoms included: appetite disturbance with weight change, mood disturbance, delusions or hallucinations, ...

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