Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Taylor v. Berryhill

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

January 4, 2018

FREDERICK E. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1], ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          SARA LIOI JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          GEORGE J. LIMBERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Frederick E. Taylor (“Plaintiff”) requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (“Defendant”) denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). ECF Dkt. #1. In his brief on the merits, filed on May 26, 2017, Plaintiff asserts that the administrative law judge's (“ALJ”) decision is not supported by substantial evidence. ECF Dkt. #13. Defendant filed a response brief on June 21, 2017. ECF Dkt. #14. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.

         For the following reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the Court AFFIRM the ALJ's decision and dismiss Plaintiff's case in its entirety with prejudice.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On December 5, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB. Transcript (“Tr.”) at 14.[2] Plaintiff also filed an application for SSI on May 2, 2014. Id. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. Plaintiff then requested a hearing, which was held on October 29, 2015. Id. at 476. On December 18, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's claims. Id. at 11. Subsequently, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 6. Accordingly, the December 18, 2015, decision by the ALJ stands as the final decision.

         Plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking review of the ALJ's December 18, 2015, decision on January 11, 2017. ECF Dkt. #1. On May 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a brief on the merits. ECF Dkt. #13. Defendant filed a response brief on June 21, 2017. ECF Dkt. #14. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.

         II. RELEVANT MEDICAL AND TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE

         A. Medical Evidence

         Plaintiff first visited Paul Garfinkle, M.D., an ophthalmologist, in July 2010 for an evaluation for diabetic retinopathy. Tr. at 185. Dr. Garfinkle diagnosed Plaintiff with severe diabetic retinopathy and recommended treatment to stabilize his eyes and prevent further progression. Id. Plaintiff continued to receive treatment from Dr. Garfinkle through 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Id. at 165-86. On several occasions, Dr. Garfinkle indicated that Plaintiff did not check his blood sugar and used only over-the-counter reading glasses. Id. at 167-68, 170, 172.

         In March 2011, Plaintiff saw Suzanne Morgan, D.O., and complained of eye problems. Tr. at 206. Dr. Morgan diagnosed eye damage from uncontrolled diabetes, and indicated that Plaintiff had “very poor insight” into his diabetes and needed to control his sugar intake. Id. Dr. Morgan stated that Plaintiff needed to take his medication as prescribed and “get labs” as directed. Id. In June 2011, Dr. Morgan indicated that Plaintiff “adamantly refused insulin” and refused any injections. Id. at 207. Plaintiff told Dr. Morgan that he was doing well and had no significant complaints in September 2011. Id. at 208-209. Dr. Morgan indicated that Plaintiff was not monitoring his diet, exercising, or testing his blood sugar level at home, and that he was noncompliant with medications. Id. at 208-10. Dr. Morgan advised Plaintiff of the consequences of uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, including loss of vision. Id. at 210.

         Plaintiff told Dr. Morgan that he was doing well in January 2012. Tr. at 214. Dr. Morgan again noted Plaintiff's noncompliance with diet, exercise, and sugar testing. Id. Plaintiff again refused insulin, indicating that he would instead change his diet. Id. at 215. Dr. Morgan also noted Plaintiff's noncompliance in May 2012. Id. at 217. Plaintiff denied any problems regarding his insulin in September 2012, and told Dr. Morgan that he drank soda daily and did not watch his diet, exercise, or test his blood sugar levels. Id. at 220. Dr. Morgan again warned Plaintiff of the consequences of his noncompliance and informed him that his eye issues would improve or stabilize if his diabetes was better controlled. Id. at 222. In April 2013, Dr. Morgan echoed this warning and adjusted Plaintiff's medication. Id. at 228. In July 2013, Plaintiff informed Dr. Morgan that he was running short on his medication and was “going to try to get disability” because his eyes were “very bad” and he was “no longer able to work.” Tr. at 229. Dr. Morgan again noted Plaintiff's continued noncompliance, including drinking soda daily, failing to check his blood sugar levels, and a poor diet. Id. Plaintiff was again told that his eye issues would improve or stabilize if his diabetes were better controlled. Id. at 231. The same advice was given to Plaintiff in August 2013. Id. at 233.

         In October 2013, Plaintiff saw Dr. Garfinkle and was diagnosed with macular edema that was stable. Tr. at 256. Plaintiff returned to Dr. Morgan in November 2013 and acknowledged that he did not check his blood sugar at home and did not take insulin with snacks, which generally consisted of one or two hotdogs in the afternoon. Id. at 234. Plaintiff declined a dietary consultation. Id. at 236. As before, Dr. Morgan advised Plaintiff that his eye issues would stabilize or improve if his diabetes was better controlled. Id. In January 2014, Dr. Morgan noted that Plaintiff's blood sugar was elevated, despite his claims that he was compliant with medications and was eating “pretty good.” Id. at 237, 271. Plaintiff indicated that he was only taking insulin with larger meals and not with snacks, such as a cheese sandwich or a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Id. at 237. Plaintiff denied any headaches, lightheadedness, or dizziness. Id. In February 2014, Plaintiff informed Dr. Morgan that his eyes bothered him and that he was still waiting on a disability determination. Id. at 275. Plaintiff stated that he did not have problems with insulin, and that he skipped doses when he was not at home and rarely took mealtime insulin more than twice a day. Id. Dr. Morgan continued Plaintiff's medication and noted that she would look into various types of syringes Plaintiff could use to administer the doses. Id. at 277.

         Also in February 2014, Dr. Garfinkle diagnosed Plaintiff with severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in both eyes. Tr. at 258-59. In March 2014, Dr. Garfinkle completed an assessment of Plaintiff's vision and noted glare, decreased vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty focusing. Id. at 315. Plaintiff's visual acuity after best correction in his right eye was 20/40 and 20/80 in his left eye. Id. Dr. Garfinkle found that Plaintiff could: rarely use depth perception and accommodation; occasionally perform activities involving near and far acuity and color vision; frequently perform activities involving field of vision; work with large and small objects; avoid ordinary hazards; and perform activities without requiring unscheduled breaks during the day. Id. at 316.

         Plaintiff told Dr. Morgan in March 2014 that he only took his insulin twice a day, instead of three times per day as prescribed, and that he had no difficulty reading the units on the syringe when he used reading glasses. Id. at 278. Also in March 2014, Dr. Morgan completed a “Diabetes Mellitus Medical Source Statement.” Id. at 318-21. Dr. Morgan indicated that she had treated Plaintiff for three years for uncontrolled diabetes with retinopathy, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity, with symptoms including fatigue, difficulty walking, retinopathy, and uncontrolled blood sugar. Id. at 318. It was noted that Plaintiff had significant limitations due to vision loss secondary to retinopathy, was at risk for hypoglycemia, and experienced depression. Id. at 318-19. Dr. Morgan assessed that Plaintiff could: sit for two hours at a time, up to two hours total in a day; stand for fifteen minutes at a time, for less than two hours a day; and walk one block at a time and would need to walk every thirty minutes. Id. at 319. Continuing, Dr. Morgan indicated that Plaintiff: would need to take unscheduled breaks twice per day; must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, high humidity, and cigarette smoke; would have difficulty due to vision impairment; and would be capable of low stress work. Id. at 321. Dr. Morgan indicated that Plaintiff's “largest limitation is his vision impairment” which had progressed while Plaintiff was under her care. Id.

         In April 2014, Plaintiff told a Social Security representative that his vision was becoming worse and that it was difficult to read fine print. Tr. at 36. Plaintiff did not have problems watching television and he was able to drive, and he stated that he had an appointment with his eye doctor in June 2014 and would inquire about glasses at the appointment. Id. Later in April 2014, Leslie Green, M.D., opined that Plaintiff could perform light work with additional postural limitations. Id. at 38. Dr. Green did not include any environmental limitations in her functional assessment. Id. at 39.

         In June 2014, Dr. Morgan indicated that Plaintiff reported no problems with his medication regime. Tr. at 281. It was noted that Plaintiff had changes in his vision due to diabetic retinopathy and that he denied any lightheadedness or dizziness. Id. In July 2014, Dr. Garfinkle indicated that Plaintiff's vision was 20/25 in his right eye and 20/80 in his left eye, without correction. Id. at 260. Dr. Garfinkle stated that Plaintiff's retinopathy was severe but stable and that his macular edema was not visually significant, and stressed the importance of blood sugar control to prevent the progression of the retinopathy. Id. at 263, 297.

         Plaintiff told Dr. Morgan in September 2014, that he was feeling well, but had run out of medication. Tr. at 285-86. Dr. Morgan noted that Plaintiff was noncompliant with diet and exercise, and that his blood sugar level remained unchanged. Id. at 285. It was recommended that Plaintiff undergo an endocrinology consultation, but Plaintiff declined due to the cost. Id. at 288. In November 2014, Plaintiff complained to Dr. Morgan of occasional eye pain in sunlight, but denied any issues otherwise. Id. at 264. Plaintiff also complained to Dr. Morgan about swelling in his feet and athlete's foot in December 2014. Id. at 289. In February 2015, Plaintiff told Dr. Morgan that both of his eyes bothered him and that he was waiting on disability. Id. at 275. Plaintiff acknowledged that he drank soda daily, rarely checked his blood sugar, was concerned about using syringes because of his vision difficulties, and rarely took insulin three times per day as prescribed. Id.

         In March 2015, Plaintiff reported to the emergency room, complaining of swelling in his right foot and a wound on his big toe. Tr. at 378, 386. Plaintiff was prescribed pain medication and an antibiotic, and was told to follow up with the wound clinic. Id. at 381, 386. That same week, a CT scan revealed a fatty liver and a few mildly enlarged lymph nodes. Id. at 362. Plaintiff returned to the emergency room the following week and requested more pain medication for his right leg and big toe. Id. at 367, 375-76. Pain medication was prescribed and Plaintiff was given information on diabetic foot care. Id. at 371, 374-75. An electroencephalogram performed near the end of March 2015 showed no evidence of radiculopathy or myopathy. Id. at 353-54. An eye examination performed by Dr. Garfinkle the following day showed that Plaintiff's diabetic retinopathy was stable and that his macular edema was not visually significant. Id. at 166, 330. Dr. Garfinkle noted that Plaintiff did not check his blood sugar regularly, declined to administer any treatment, and recommended a follow-up treatment in six weeks. Id. at 165, 330. In May 2015, Plaintiff returned to Dr. Garfinkle for treatment, noting that his blood sugar had been running around 200, although he did not check it regularly. Id. at 331. Dr. Garfinkle again assessed diabetic retinopathy, severe and stable, and diabetic macular degeneration, not visually significant. Id. at 334.

         Plaintiff returned to the emergency room in June 2015, complaining of unresolved right leg swelling. Tr. at 387. An evaluator expressed concern over congestive heart failure and admitted Plaintiff for an evaluation. Id. at 387, 390. Plaintiff indicated that he had gained eighty pounds over the last six months and that his activities were limited due to leg pain. Id. at 393. A cardiologist opined that Plaintiff's issues were related to his morbid obesity and likely sleep apnea, and expressed concerns about congestive heart failure. Id. at 394. Akbar Shar, M.D., found it “quite evident” that Plaintiff had room to improve his diet, which was high in calories and essentially uncontrolled. Id. at 395. Plaintiff's blood sugar was elevated to 395, and the clinician noted that Plaintiff had been noncompliant with a diabetic diet and had been eating cheeseburgers from an outside vendor while he was hospitalized. Id. at 399.

         Plaintiff returned to Dr. Garfinkle in June 2015 reporting that his vision was stable and that he had no pain or discomfort, although it sometimes took him a while to focus. Tr. at 335. Dr. Garfinkle measured Plaintiff's visual acuity as 20/30 in his right eye and 20/80 in his left eye, and assessed stable diabetic retinopathy and improved muscular edema. Id. at 342.

         Plaintiff returned to the emergency room in July 2015 complaining of general malaise. Tr. at 408-18. Testing showed negative blood cultures, but additional testing showed medication-induced renal failure. Id. at 408-18, 431. An abdominal CT scan was unremarkable, and Plaintiff was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.