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Seymour v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 8, 2017

Patty S. Seymour, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



          Terence P. Kem, p United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, Patty S. Seymour, filed this action seeking review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for supplemental security income. That application was filed on December 20, 2012, and alleged that Plaintiff became disabled that day.

         After initial administrative denials of her claim, Plaintiff was given a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on January 6, 2015. In a decision dated February 8, 2015, the ALJ denied benefits. That became the Commissioner's final decision on May 31, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied review.

         After Plaintiff filed this case, the Commissioner filed the administrative record on October 4, 2016. Plaintiff filed a statement of errors on January 30, 2017, to which the Commissioner responded on May 15, 2017. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief, and the case is now ready to decide.

         II. Plaintiff's Testimony at the Administrative Hearing

         Plaintiff, who was 54 years old as of the date of the hearing and who has a high school education but who was also in special classes, testified as follows. Her testimony appears at pages 51-66 of the administrative record.

         Plaintiff was first asked about her living situation. She resided by herself in Section 8 housing in Chillicothe. She had a friend who would take her places, as would her son. She did not cook, but family members brought her food. She testified about her high school education, noting that she was in separate classes and never learned to read. She never worked full-time but did work in order to get financial assistance from the State. She did light cleaning at a Legal Aid office.

         Plaintiff said that she could not work because she was afraid to be out in the community. She had been abused as a child. She did go to church occasionally and she shopped, but only when someone else took her. Plaintiff said that she sought counseling in 2011 or 2012 due to relationship problems, but she had told her more recent counselor about the childhood abuse. She was doing better with medication and after separating herself from the other person in her relationship.

         III. The Medical Records

         The pertinent medical records - those relating to Plaintiff's mental impairments - are found beginning at page 339 of the administrative record. They can be summarized as follows.

         Chronologically, the first report comes from Dr. Yee, a psychologist who evaluated Plaintiff in February, 2011. Plaintiff told her that she had a history of depression dating back to her school days. She denied any history of substance abuse. Her social presentation was appropriate but withdrawn and some psychomotor retardation was noted. Her full-scale IQ was measured at 67. Dr. Yee rated Plaintiff's GAF at 65 and thought that Plaintiff would be a good candidate for vocational training once her mood was stabilized (Tr. 501-10). Several years later, Dr. Yee was asked to fill out a mental residual functional capacity report, and she described Plaintiff as having a large number of marked impairments, plus an extreme limitation on her ability to deal with work stress. (Tr. 513-14).

         Next, the record contains a report from Dr. Peterson, also a consultative examiner, who evaluated Plaintiff on March 25, 2013. Plaintiff reported that she was unable to work due to an inability to read and write and because of past abuse. She said that she was a “slow learner” when in school. She was not taking any medication at the time of the evaluation. Plaintiff told Dr. Peterson that she had lost jobs in the past due to her learning difficulties but that she got along well with coworkers and supervisors. She had gone to counseling in the past, but not since 2008. On a daily basis, she did word searches, household chores, and went shopping. She did some socializing with a friend who took her to the store and helped her to pay bills. Dr. Peterson observed that she had difficulty responding to questions and that she had to be redirected frequently. Her mood appeared mildly dysphoric. She occasionally felt depressed but said that her mood was normal most of the time. Sometimes she had nightmares. Dr. Peterson noted that her concentration and persistence on tasks was poor. On testing, she scored 53 on the IQ scale and her working memory composite score was very low. Dr. Peterson diagnosed a learning disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, and a personality disorder with dependent features. She rated Plaintiff's GAF at 60 for symptoms and 50 for functioning and concluded that she ...

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