United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. LIMBERT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Ralph Isenhart (“Plaintiff”) requests judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security Administration (“Defendant”) denying his
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). ECF Dkt. #1. In his brief on the merits,
filed on November 21, 2016, Plaintiff asks the Court to
review whether the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”): (1) violated the treating physician
rule; and (2) erred in the determination that he did not meet
Listing 12.05C. ECF Dkt. #14 at 9-14. On January 20, 2017,
Defendant filed a response brief. ECF Dkt. #16. Plaintiff did
not file a reply brief.
following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the ALJ
and dismisses the instant case in its entirety with
filed his application for SSI in August 2011. ECF Dkt. #10
(“Tr.”) at 363. In his application, Plaintiff
alleged disability beginning on February 1, 2011.
Id. This claim was denied initially in May 2013
after the ALJ held hearings in November 2012 and December
2012. Id. at 80, 133, 200. Plaintiff requested
review of the decision by the Appeals Council, and in
September 2014, the Appeals Council remanded the application
to the ALJ for further administrative proceedings.
Id. at 220. In March 2015, Plaintiff appeared for a
hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 44. On April 30,
2015, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's application for SSI.
Id. at 20. Subsequently, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 1. Accordingly, the decision issued by the
ALJ on April 30, 2015, stands as the final decision.
14, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking review of
the ALJ's decision. ECF Dkt. #1. Plaintiff filed a brief
on the merits on November 21, 2016. ECF Dkt. #14. Defendant
filed a response brief on January 20, 2017. ECF Dkt. #16.
Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT PORTIONS OF THE ALJ'S
decision issued on April 30, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since August 10, 2011, the date of his application for SSI.
Tr. at 25. Continuing, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
the following severe impairments: coronary artery disease;
asthma; hypertension; depression; and borderline intellectual
functioning. Id. The ALJ stated that Plaintiff did
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met
or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
Id. When making this determination, and when
addressing Listing 12.05, the ALJ discussed Plaintiff's:
activities of daily living; social functioning;
concentration, persistence, or pace; and episodes of
decompensation. Id. at 26-27.
found that Plaintiff had mild restriction in his activities
of daily living. Tr. at 26. Continuing, the ALJ stated that a
function report completed in September 2011 indicated that
Plaintiff reported that he cared for his personal needs,
prepared simple meals, did laundry or chores, and performed
his own shopping. Id. The ALJ next noted that at the
hearing held in December 2012, Plaintiff stated that he
cooked in a crock-pot, kept his house clean, and watched
television. Id. Additionally, the ALJ indicated that
Plaintiff reported that he performed his own grocery shopping
at the March 2015 hearing. Id.
social functioning, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
moderate difficulties. Tr. at 26. The ALJ noted that
Plaintiff testified that a friend took him to the hearing
held in March 2015, and that a friend found him a job at a
big-box store. Id. Continuing, the ALJ stated that
Plaintiff also testified that he visited his son,
daughter-in-law, niece, and nephew, and indicated in the
functional report that he enjoyed playing with his
grandchildren. Id. The ALJ also noted that Plaintiff
testified that he did not like being around others and that
he went grocery shopping at night when there are fewer people
at the grocery store. Id. Additionally, the ALJ
indicated that a consultative examiner, Deborah Koricke,
Ph.D., noted that Plaintiff demonstrated difficulty relating
to others at the examination, and stated that he was somewhat
depressed and difficult to engage because he put forth
minimal effort. Id.
on to concentration, persistence, or pace, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had moderate difficulties. Tr. at 27. The ALJ cited
another consultative examiner, Andrea Johnson, Psy.D., who
concluded that Plaintiff's ability to maintain attention,
concentration, persistence, and/or pace was moderately
impaired. Id. Continuing, the ALJ stated that Dr.
Johnson felt that Plaintiff's ability to withstand stress
and the pressures associated with day-to-day work activity
was moderately impaired. Id. The ALJ also indicated
that Dr. Koricke noted that Plaintiff's level of
attention and concentration throughout the examination was
adequate, but he put forth minimal effort and refused to
persist. Id. Additionally, the ALJ indicated that
Dr. Koricke stated that Plaintiff's work pace was within
normal limits. Id. The ALJ also found that Plaintiff
did not experience any episodes of decompensation of extended
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have a mental
incapacity evidenced by dependence upon others for his
personal needs, as he was able to care for himself and follow
directions (as evidenced by his ability to take standardized
tests). Tr. at 27. Further, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff did
not have a “valid verbal, performance, or full-scale IQ
of sixty through seventy and a physical or other mental
impairment imposing an additional and significant
work-related limitation of a function.” Id. at
28. For these reasons, that ALJ found that Plaintiff did not
meet the criteria of Listing 12.05C.
consideration of the record, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b),
except that he could: never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; occasionally climb ramps and stairs; occasionally
crawl; frequently kneel and crouch; and constantly balance or
stoop. Tr. at 28. The ALJ also found that Plaintiff
must avoid jobs that involved concentrated exposure to
extreme cold, heat, humidity, and/or respiratory irritants.
Id. Continuing, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff was
limited to unskilled work where he could understand,
remember, and carry out instructions, and work in a simple
routine-type work environment without strict time or fast
paced performance demands (noting that goal-oriented type
work was acceptable). Id. The ALJ also found that
Plaintiff could frequently work with others on a superficial
basis, defined as speaking or signaling to take instructions,
carry out instructions, ask questions, and serve.
Id. In addition, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff could
not collaborate with, mentor, or be responsible for the
safety of others. Id.
explaining the RFC finding, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff was
unable to perform any past relevant work. Tr. at 33. The ALJ
indicated that Plaintiff was a younger individual on the date
the application was filed, and subsequently changed age
category to closely approaching advanced age. Id. at
34. Continuing, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff had a marginal
education, was able to communicate in English, and that the
transferability of job skills was not an issue because
Plaintiff's past relevant work was unskilled.
Id. Considering Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, that ALJ determined that jobs existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. Id. For these reasons, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, since August 10, 2011, the date his
application for SSI was filed. Id. at 35.
STEPS TO EVALUATE ENTITLEMENT TO SOCIAL SECURITY
must proceed through the required sequential steps for
evaluating entitlement to social ...