United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
WHITNEY L. ARTMAYER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Whitney L. Artmayer, filed this action seeking review of a
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her Title II Disability
Insurance Benefits application. For the reasons that follow,
it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors be OVERRULED, and that
judgment be entered in favor of Defendant.
filed for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
on March 17, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of
February 21, 2014. (See Doc. 9-3, Tr. 97, PAGEID #:
147). Her application was denied initially on June 23, 2014
(Doc. 9-4, Tr. 127, PAGEID #: 178), and upon reconsideration
on November 14, 2014 (id., Tr. 134, PAGEID #: 185).
Administrative Law Judge Timothy G. Keller (the
“ALJ”) held a hearing on June 2, 2016 (Doc. 9-2,
Tr. 40, PAGEID #: 89), after which he denied benefits in a
written decision on July 5, 2016 (id., Tr. 15-33,
PAGEID #: 64-82). That decision became final when the Appeals
Council denied review on September 12, 2016. (Id.,
Tr. 1, PAGEID #: 50).
filed this case on November 9, 2016 (Doc. 1), and the
Commissioner filed the administrative record on January 17,
2017 (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed a Statement of Specific Errors
on April 14, 2017 (Doc. 14), the Commissioner responded on
May 26, 2017, (Doc. 15), and no reply was filed.
Relevant Testimony at the Administrative Hearing
beginning of the hearing, Plaintiff acknowledged that she was
recently released from jail for possession of drug
paraphernalia for which she served six months. (Doc. 9-2, Tr.
43, PAGEID #: 92). Despite Plaintiff's testimony that she
didn't begin illicit drug use until 2015, the ALJ
directed Plaintiff's attention to a medical record from
June 2015 that stated she had been using heroin for a year.
(Id., Tr. 54, PAGEID #: 103). In response, Plaintiff
stated she wouldn't “contest that if it's in
records. I just know that I'm trying to get better, just
trying to do what I need to do.” (Id., Tr. 55,
PAGEID #: 104). Plaintiff testified that she lost custody of
her son in June 2015 as a result of her drug use.
(Id., Tr. 51, PAGEID #: 100).
testified that, prior to her jail time, she had to stop
working in order to take care of her son, who suffers from
Type I diabetes. (Id., Tr. 44, PAGEID #: 93). Later
in the hearing, however, the ALJ asked why she was not able
to work, and she responded: “I'm not really able to
do anything physically, I can't even stand on my own two
feet.” (Id., Tr. 47, PAGEID #: 97). Plaintiff
further explained that it was “most likely [her]
fibromyalgia diagnosis” that caused her to apply for
disability. (Id., Tr. 48, PAGEID #: 97).
asked by her attorney to give details about her mental
health, Plaintiff stated that most days she feels hopeless,
doesn't want to go to work, and doesn't want to take
care of herself. (Id., Tr. 49, PAGEID #: 98).
Plaintiff testified that she suffers from anxiety that is
caused by “appointments, obligations, [and] interaction
with people.” (Id., Tr. 49-50, PAGEID #:
98-99). Plaintiff also said she suffers from depression and
has had suicidal ideation that resulted in two trips to the
emergency room. (Id., Tr. 50-51, PAGEID #: 99-100).
Plaintiff stated that the medications she takes, however,
improve her mental health condition. (Id., Tr.
56-57, PAGEID #: 105-06).
terms of daily activities, Plaintiff stated that she likes to
sew clothes, blankets, and scarves because it helps with her
anxiety and depression. (Id., Tr. 56, PAGEID #:
105). She also confirmed during her attorney's
questioning that on “good days”-which she
testified occurs once or twice a week-she performs household
chores and personal care. (Id., Tr. 53, PAGEID #:
102). Further, Plaintiff testified that she attended
Muskingum University until January 2014, in pursuit of a
Master's degree in social work, but quit because she
“was going through some mental problems and my son was
ill and just-I wasn't doing well in school.”
December 2013 to November 11, 2014, Plaintiff saw Brenda
Verhey for outpatient counseling. (Doc. 9-9, Tr. 963-978,
PAGEID #: 1019-34). On several occasions, Ms. Verhey noted
Plaintiff's demeanor was depressed, defeated, or hopeless
(e.g., id., Tr. 963-64, 966-67, 969-70,
PAGEID #: 1019-20, 1022-23, 1025-26), but she was always
described as cooperative (id.). In Ms. Verhey's
treatment notes there were numerous occasions where Plaintiff
was reported as a “NC/NS”-a no call, no show.
(Id., Tr. 968, 971-74, PAGEID #: 1024, 1027-30).
gynecology appointment on February 14, 2014, Plaintiff was
noted to be oriented to person, place, or time, with normal
mood and affect. (Doc. 9-7, Tr. 308, PAGEID #: 362).
March 5, 2014, Plaintiff was evaluated by Georgeann Neuzil,
CNS, following surgery for endometriosis, who noted Plaintiff
had some “mood swings” and was depressed due to
ongoing conflict with her husband. (Id., Tr. 338,
PAGEID #: 392). At that time, Plaintiff was dysthymic, but
had good eye contact, a logical thought process, intact
memory and cognition, fair insight, good judgment, intact
impulse control, and was described as being attentive,
oriented, and cooperative. (Id., Tr. 338-39, PAGEID
#: 392-93). She reported using music, nature, reading,
talking with others, prayer, and deep breathing as coping
skills. (Id., Tr. 339, PAGEID #:393).
began attending mental health therapy through Family Care
Behavioral Health on March 26, 2014. (Doc. 9-10, Tr. 1043,
PAGEID #: 1100). Plaintiff was described as pleasant, with
clear speech, logical thoughts, and poor eye contact.
(Id., Tr. 1044, PAGEID #: 1101). Over the course of
the next few months, over numerous appointments, Plaintiff