United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
H. Rice, District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
L. Ovington, United States Magistrate Judge
Bradley Denniston brings this case challenging the Social
Security Administration's denial of his applications for
period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and
Supplemental Security Income. He applied for benefits on May
14, 2014, asserting that he could no longer work a
substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Paul R.
Armstrong concluded that he was not eligible for benefits
because he is not under a “disability” as defined
in the Social Security Act.
case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (Doc. #6), the Commissioner's Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. #7), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #8), and
the administrative record (Doc. #5).
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 Armstrong's non-disability decision.
asserts that he has been under a “disability”
since February 2, 2014. He was forty-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). He has a high
school education and according to ALJ Armstrong, “a
wonderful work history.” (Doc. #5, PageID
#109); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1564(b)(4),
testified at the hearing before ALJ Armstrong if he could
work today, he “definitely” would. (Doc. #5,
PageID #103). He explained that he enjoyed working
and when he was able to work, did not miss a day.
Id. When ALJ Armstrong asked, “All the stuff
you did was really heavy work. You're lifting 50 pounds
and stuff. Why couldn't you do a light job? Plaintiff
responded, “That's all I've done my whole life.
That's all I know. That's all I know how to do. I
don't know nothing else.” Id. at 103.
further explained, “I try to work and do things that I
was able to do in the past[, ] … my breathing
won't let me. I'm not able to continue to go like I
was before. I get out of breath every time I try to do
something.” Id. at 110-11. Plaintiff smokes
cigarettes but has significantly reduced the number he smokes
per day: At the beginning of 2015, he smoked two packs a day
and by the time of the hearing in December 2015, he was
smoking three to six cigarettes per day. Id. at 86.
Since cutting back, he has not noticed a difference in his
breathing. Id. at 98-99. He has difficulty breathing
in dusty environments and when the temperature is very hot or
very cold. Id. at 99.
1990, Plaintiff fell approximately sixty feet and hurt his
right ankle and back. Id. at 91, 108. At first, the
doctors were unable to find anything wrong with his ankle.
Id. at 91. However, a year and a half later, another
doctor found that it had broken and started to heal
incorrectly. Id. As a result, Plaintiff underwent
surgery. Id. His surgeon informed him that he had
arthritis in his ankle and although the surgeon removed it,
it was likely to return. Id. Plaintiff also has back
pain “[e]veryday, all day” because of the fall.
Id. at 96. He sees a pain management doctor once a
month at Dayton Pain Center. Id.
sees a psychiatrist at Darke County Mental Health.
Id. at 101. He originally sought treatment
“[f]or depression, more or less because I wasn't
able to do the things I've been able to do in the past
….” Id. at 110-11. He used to see a
case worker- Dick Baker-but Mr. Baker retired and Darke
County has not been able to find Plaintiff a new case worker.
Id. at 101-02. Plaintiff “had a couple of
different periods during [the] hearing where [he's] been
emotional and [he's] cried.” Id. at 111.
This happens to him several times a week “because I got
somebody else doing things for me and I usually do it myself.
Never been dependent on nobody.” Id.
falls asleep three to four times a day for fifteen to twenty
minutes at a time. Id. at 99-100. When he was at
work, he sometimes nodded off. Id. at 100.
once fell asleep while driving to work and “hit a state
trooper head on.” Id. at 92. He had a sleep
study done and now uses a BiPAP machine. Id. at 92.
Even with the machine, Plaintiff still nods off. Id.
is not able to read. Id. at 88. When asked by the
ALJ if he had ever learned to read at all, Plaintiff
explained: “I've tried. I went to school everyday.
… I gave my effort. When I was younger in 
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade they didn't know I
had 5 percent hearing in both my ears. … So I
wasn't able to hear. That's when you learn to read
and write.” Id. The ALJ recommended he go to
the public library so “older people” could help
him learn to read. Id. at 89. Plaintiff related a
troubling story: “My grandbaby comes home from 1st
grade with a 1st grade book, and he asked me what these words
are. And I tell him I can't read them, I try to read
them, and I can't read them for him. You know how bad
that feels[?]” Id. (The ALJ responded with an
oddly irrelevant personal story.)
last worked as a laborer at Fram Oil Filter Company.
Id. at 86. After a machine assembled oil filters, he
was supposed to sort the good parts from the bad.
Id. at 87. He had “trouble keeping up with the
assortment of stuff.” Id. The job also
required Plaintiff to complete “a lot of
paperwork” and he was not able to. Id. at 88.
He was let go, after working 89 days, “for not being
able to keep up with it.” Id. at 86.
resides with his long-time girlfriend. Id. at 93.
She has one daughter and grandchildren. Id. at 94.
Plaintiff's girlfriend helps him put on and tie his shoes
because he loses his breath when he bends over: “I
stand up. I get dizzy. I've stood up before and fell
over, passed out doing that. Id. at 96-97. Plaintiff
has problems sitting for long periods of time. Id.
at 97. He can only sit comfortably for about fifteen minutes.
Id. at 98. If he does not stand up after that, his
lower back and legs go numb and get tingly. Id.
estimated that he can lift “[m]aybe 10 pounds”
and can walk “[c]omfortably, maybe a block.”
Id. at 94. He has a home exercise program where he
“can use rubber bands and stuff like that to keep
exercise movements and stuff like that in [his] legs and
arms.” Id. at 94-95. He also tries to walk
around his house. Id. at 95.
has a driver's license. Id. at 88. When he
obtained his license, the driving test was read to him.
Id. Since his accident, he has obtained another
vehicle from his brother. Id. at 93. He generally
only drives two to three times a week. Id. at 98.
Plaintiff used to ride motorcycles. Id. at 93. He
had to get rid of his Harley Gold Wing-“a dynamite
machine, ” according to the ALJ-because he was unable
to hold it up. Id.
Sherry Adkins, M.D.
February 12, 2015, Dr. Adkins, Plaintiff's primary-care
physician, indicated Plaintiff should be restricted from
operating heaving machinery-including vehicles- due to a
history of syncope. Id. at 768.
M. Robert Maher, D.P.M.
Maher, Plaintiff's podiatrist, opined on May 8, 2012,
that Plaintiff was limited to working eight hours a day, five
days a week, for four weeks. Id. at 465.
Martti E. Kahkonen, M.D.
August 7, 2014, Dr. Kahkonen completed a consultative exam
and documented largely normal findings. Id. at
477-82. He noted Plaintiff's teeth were in “poor
repair” and his lungs revealed rhonchi. Id. at
479. Dr. Kahkonen assessed no functional or lifting/carrying
restrictions. Id. at 481-82.
Damian M. Danopulos, M.D.
Danopulos examined Plaintiff and reviewed some of his records
on July 24, 2014. Id. at 932-48. His
“objective findings were 1) right ankle arthralgias, if
any, 2) cervical spine arthralgias, 3) lumbar spine minimal
arthritic changes in the lower lumbosacral spine area and 4)
history of depression, which was already evaluated by a
Social Security psychologist.” Id. at 836. He
concluded that Plaintiff's physical
impairments-“except has mild emphysema”-do not
interfere with his ability to complete work-related
activities and “a semi-sedentary job would be fitting
for him.” Id. at 837. He cautioned,
“This assessment was based on his complaints, ...