United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
DAVID N. FITZENREITER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. KNEPP, II UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
David Fitzenreiter (“Plaintiff”) filed a
Complaint against the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to deny disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). (Doc. 1). The district court has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1383(c) and 405(g).
The parties consented to the undersigned's exercise of
jurisdiction in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
Civil Rule 73. (Doc. 15). For the reasons stated below, the
undersigned affirms the decision of the Commissioner.
protectively filed for DIB and SSI in September 2013,
alleging a disability onset date of August 31, 2008. (Tr.
236-46). His claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 88-153; 156-84). Plaintiff then
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 185). Plaintiff (represented by
counsel), and a vocational expert (“VE”)
testified at a hearing before the ALJ on August 18, 2015.
(Tr. 33-87). On October 7, 2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled in a written decision. (Tr. 11-26). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
hearing decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr.
1-5); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.955, 404.981,
416.1455, 416.1481. Plaintiff timely filed the instant action
on October 5, 2016. (Doc. 1).
Background and Testimony
was born in May 1961, making him 47 years old at his alleged
onset date. (Tr. 88). He had a high-school education (GED)
and past work as a forklift operator, material handler,
pressing machine operator, and food packer. (Tr. 24, 39-45,
October 2013 function report, Plaintiff explained he was
limited in his ability to work because, among other things:
“I don't understand instruction [sic] sometimes and
get anxious and depressed. I forget thing [sic] more.”
(Tr. 302). He reported activities of caring for pets, yard
work, laundry, preparing meals, grocery shopping, and
chatting online. (Tr. 303-06). Plaintiff reported he had
trouble getting along “sometimes with sibling [sic] and
neighbor [sic] who gossip. And game player [sic] at
work” and that he was “more anti-social”
and did not go out. (Tr. 307). He also indicated he could pay
attention for ten to fifteen minutes, but had difficulty
following instructions because “[s]ometimes it gets
confusing, can't remember as well as I used to.”
Id. In response to a question about how he got along
with authority figures, he responded: “very well,
bosses most of the time but not always”, and he
indicated he had never been fired or laid off for not getting
along with people. (Tr. 308).
August 2015 hearing before the ALJ, Plaintiff testified he
lived alone in a home owned by his mother. (Tr. 37).
Plaintiff testified he believed he could not work due to
anxiety and depression. (Tr. 45-46). He explained what had
changed since 2008 to the present affecting his ability to
I've just had a lot of eye opening experiences. I've
gone over things in my past. I found out things that were
done to me that I never knew by people recently and it has
kind of been on my mind a lot. I try to keep busy so I
don't think about it, but it really hurts a lot to think
about some of the things that I found out that were done to
What's different is that I'm seeing things in a whole
new light. I don't see things the way I used to see
things before. I have a more negative outlook on life and
I fear about people and the games and stuff. I don't want
to be part of all that, but it just seems to be a normal
thing everywhere I go. Either that or I'm imagining it. I
might be imagining it.
(Tr. 69-71). He also testified he could not work:
“Because I just have a hard time concentrating.
Concentrating on the job. Being in one place for too long. .
. . I don't know, I just don't feel comfortable with
it anymore.” (Tr. 73).
testified he saw his psychiatrist, Dr. Williams, every twelve
weeks, but “[s]ometimes it's less than that”
and saw a therapist weekly or biweekly. (Tr. 50-51).
Plaintiff had been under the care of the Stress Center since
1989 (for panic attacks), and had been seeing Dr. Williams
specifically for fifteen years. (Tr. 64).
testified he had memory problems, “forgetting things
more often and not remembering stuff and losing
things”, but did not need reminders to take his
medication. (Tr. 53-54). With regard to concentration,
Plaintiff said he tended “to drift off and think about
other things that [he's] not supposed to be - -
shouldn't be - - [he had] a hard time focusing on what
[he] should be doing.” (Tr. 54). These concentration
problems went “all the way back to grade school.”
testified he had trouble understanding instructions in past
jobs, and had always had trouble making decisions. (Tr. 55,
67). He also had trouble getting along with other people.
(Tr. 56) (“And a lot of it just comes from my own
frustrations because I can't seem to figure out what is
wanted from them. And it's not necessarily their fault,
it's just the frustration leads to - -“). Plaintiff
said he “[s]ometimes” had trouble with
supervisors “when they take credit for something [he]
did” and “[s]ometimes” had trouble with
coworkers “when they don't pull their fair
share.” (Tr. 65). He also sometimes felt like coworkers
were out to get him, and had previously left a job because of
high anxiety. (Tr. 67). He explained he had left a prior job
because: “People play head games. People try to get
your job. People sabotage things so you get in trouble to get
your job. You go to personnel and nothing is done.”
(Tr. 44-45). He testified he felt like he was “always a
little paranoid and watching over [his] back” and had
“a hard time concentrating and . . . a hard time
understanding what someone wants from [him].” (Tr. 46).
also testified to anger issues, but anger management had been
helpful. (Tr. 71-72).
had “always had issues with [his] brothers and
sisters”, which he attributed to the age difference
between them. (Tr. 66). He said he had one friend, and that
he “always seemed to be comfortable with having just
one friend. . . . I just felt like I've never needed more
than that.” Id.
testified he had a nervous breakdown in 1989, for which he
was hospitalized overnight. (Tr. 56, 73). He still had
anxiety attacks “once in awhile”, but “not
as severe as what they were back in 1989”. (Tr. 57). He
could usually recover from them in “fifteen minutes or
testified he checked on his mother daily, and helped her with
household chores like laundry and meal preparation. (Tr. 58).
He also performed chores at his own house, though not as much
as he thought he should: “Dusting I don't like and
I don't sweep as often as I should. I just mopped the
kitchen floor, so I got that done. Dishes are never ending
and I will never catch up with that in my life. I'm just
not - - I have a problem keeping up with that.” (Tr.
59). Plaintiff also cared for birds and fish. (Tr. 60).
testified he grocery shopped twice per month, and it took him
approximately an hour. (Tr. 59-60). He would go early in the
morning to avoid crowds. (Tr. 60); see also Tr. 73
(“I like to shop in peace and if a lot of people are
around and stuff it tends to make me nervous. It always
record reflects (as Plaintiff testified to) a long history of
mental health treatment. The Transcript contains records from
Plaintiff's treating physician, George Williams, M.D., of
Fulton County Health Center, starting in January 2008.
See Tr. 460.
record contains two treatment notes from Dr. Williams in 2008
(prior to Plaintiff's alleged onset date). (Tr. 459-60).
At both visits, Dr. Williams noted “[m]ood and mental
status overall were fairly good”. Id. In
January 2008, Plaintiff reported he had been working
full-time for five months, and felt “his mood has been
relatively stable.” (Tr. 460). In July, Plaintiff was
still working, and was “[a]ble to keep up with
responsibilities within his own home as well as his
parents.” (Tr. 459). At both visits, Dr. Williams
assessed “[p]anic disorder, stable”, and
continued Plaintiff on his current medication of Cymbalta.
record contains three treatment notes from Dr. Williams in
2009. (Tr. 456-58). In February, Plaintiff did not have a
job, but was looking. (Tr. 458). He was “staying active
online with some contacts”. Id. In July,
Plaintiff reported he was “still struggling from his
previous job”. (Tr. 456). He described interpersonal
problems that led to his departure (“he ended up having
to leave there because it was becoming extraordinarily more
difficult in light of the fact that there was an ongoing
perception from many of the employees that the patient was
‘a narc.'”). Id. In October,
Plaintiff was still job-searching, and was “preoccupied
with taking care of his parents.” (Tr. 457).
Plaintiff's “[m]ood and mental status” was
“fairly good” (Tr. 457-58), or “about the
same” (Tr. 456). In 2009, Plaintiff reported his
medication was “helpful” (Tr. 458), and made his
mood “fairly stable” (Tr. 457). At each visit,
Dr. Williams again assessed “[p]anic disorder,
stable”, and continued Plaintiff on Cymbalta. (Tr.
again saw Dr. Williams three times in 2010. (Tr. 453-55). In
April, Plaintiff was looking for work, but “feeling as
though the odds are stacked against him” and continuing
“to have some issues with feeling as though there are
others in the community that have less than a positive
orientation towards him.” (Tr. 455). Dr. Williams
observed that Plaintiff “seems to have some degree of
suspicion regarding others within the community which may or
may not be public knowledge issues.” Id. In
September, Plaintiff was still looking for work, having some
difficulty sleeping, and Dr. Williams noted “his mood
has been up and down although for the most part not to any
significant extreme.” (Tr. 454). Dr. Williams added a
trial of Saphris at bedtime to address sleep, “as well
as some of the suspicious thoughts that he has had over
time.” Id. In December, Plaintiff expressed
frustration over physical medical issues. (Tr. 453). He had
not been taking the Saphris, but his sleep had been
“good”. Id. At the 2010 visits,
Plaintiff's mood and mental status were “about the
same” (Tr. 455), “fair” (Tr. 454), and
“fairly good” (Tr. 453). In April and December,
Dr. Williams assessed “[p]anic disorder, stable”,
(Tr. 453, 455) and in September, he assessed “[p]anic
disorder” (Tr. 454). Plaintiff continued to take
Cymbalta. (Tr. 453-55).
2011, Plaintiff again saw Dr. Williams three times. (Tr.
450-52). In April, Plaintiff reported he had been
“fairly good from a mood point of view”. (Tr.
452). In July, Plaintiff reported he had filed for
bankruptcy, and had started a new job. (Tr. 451). In October,
Plaintiff reported he had left the job due to erratic hours,
and “he could not handle that physically”, but
was looking for another job. (Tr. 450). “From a mood
point of view, he [was] pleased that he [was] doing
okay.” During this time, Plaintiff's mood and
mental status were “fairly good” (Tr. 450, 452),
and “fairly stable” (Tr. 451). In April and
October, Dr. Williams assessed dysthymic disorder, and panic
disorder (without agoraphobia). (Tr. 450, 452). In April, he
explicitly noted they were “[b]oth stable.” (Tr.
452). Dr. Williams continued the Cymbalta prescription, which
Plaintiff reported to be helpful (Tr. 450-52), and provided
more Saphris samples (Tr. 451-52).
saw Dr. Williams four times in 2012. (Tr. 446-49). In April,
Plaintiff reported he had worked in December 2011, but it
ended because “they did not have enough work to keep on
the temporary employees”. (Tr. 449). Plaintiff was
hopeful that he would be hired back, and reported he
“continues to do what he can . . . to help out his
parents and keep up with the property.” Id. He
reported no panic attacks, no significant symptoms of
depression, and believed his mood to be
“manageable/good.” Id. In July,
Plaintiff reported “not much has changed
overall”, and described some physical health issues.
(Tr. 448). Dr. Williams noted “[o]therwise, he remains
active” and that he was scheduled to return to work the
following week. Id. In September, Plaintiff was
working part-time, and hopeful for a full-time job. (Tr.
447). He reported things were “largely unchanged”
and “going okay.” Id. In December,
Plaintiff was “okay . . . from a mood point of
view”, but frustrated with his inability to obtain and
maintain employment. (Tr. 446). He “believe[d] that . .
. people that he knows that have intentionally undermined his
credibility with others which has put his employment
opportunities at risk” and he was “thinking about
applying for disability even.” (Tr. 446). During this
time, Plaintiff's mood and mental status were
“good” (Tr. 449), “fairly good” (Tr.
446, 448), and “fair/good” (Tr. 447). Dr.
Williams continued to assess panic disorder, without
agoraphobia, and dysthymia. (Tr. 446-49). He specifically
noted Plaintiff's dysthymia to be stable at each visit
id., and in September noted “[b]oth
stable” (Tr. 447). Dr. Williams continued to prescribe
Cymbalta. (Tr. 446-49).
also saw Dr. Williams four times in 2013. (Tr. 442-45,
495-96). In March, Plaintiff reported “not
much has changed overall”, he was looking for work, and
had been “occupying himself with tending to the needs
of his elderly parents.” (Tr. 445). In May, Plaintiff
reported “overall he has been doing fairly well”,
was supporting his parents, and was still job-searching. (Tr.
444). In August, Dr. Williams noted Plaintiff
had anxiety with restlessness but depression was not
clinically an issue. (Tr. 442). Plaintiff himself reported mild
anxiety, moderate depressed mood, and moderate stressors due
to work, family, and financial issues. Id. Dr.
Williams noted Plaintiff had “some ideas of reference,
although [he could] not say [it] breaches into
psychosis”. Id. His attitude was
“cooperative yet somewhat irritable”, his
attention was “good”, his speech
“clear”, insight “fair”, judgment
“appropriate”, thought process “logical,
with some ideas of reference”, and thought content
“appropriate to topic.” Id. Dr. Williams
noted Plaintiff's “mood/condition” was
“fairly stable over time, no obvious changes relative
to previous visit.” (Tr. 443). In November, Dr.
Williams noted Plaintiff had “ongoing anxiety and
distress related to family dynamics.” (Tr. 495).
Plaintiff's father had died six days prior, and Plaintiff
thought his siblings were “joined in an approach to try
to undermine his role within the family.” Id.
Plaintiff also reported a domestic violence restraining order
against him as a result of an argument with his siblings,
“even though he did not touch anyone.”
Id. Plaintiff was “trying to do what he can to
be supportive” of his mother. Id. During this
time, Plaintiff's mood and mental status were
“good” (Tr. 445), “fairly good” (Tr.
444), euthymic, and “fairly stable” (Tr. 442-43),
and “fairly stable despite the recent psychosocial
stressors” (in November 2011) (Tr. 495). Dr. Williams
continued to assess panic disorder, without agoraphobia, and
dysthymia, noting them to be “stable” (Tr.
444-45), and “fairly stable” (Tr. 443). Dr.
Williams continued to prescribe Cymbalta (Tr. 442-45,
495-96), which Plaintiff described as helpful (Tr. 444-45,
also began counseling in October 2013, undergoing an
assessment with Julia Rossow, LSW. (Tr.
471-85). Plaintiff reported struggling with family
problems, and his father's illness. (Tr. 471). Plaintiff
believed his siblings had contacted his physicians to
“stick their noses in when they don't
belong”. Id. He wanted to “learn to set
boundaries”, “obtain inner spiritual
peace”, and “work through how to deal with
death”. Id. Plaintiff reported his support
system consisted of his pastor and his parents, but he lacked
social or peer support. Id. He reported he
“watch[ed] church live”, “listen[ed] to
soft music” and enjoyed gardening. Id.
Plaintiff was unemployed (Tr. 471); when he had a job his
attendance was normal, performance was good, but he would
“worry constantly about who is going to play me
next” (Tr. 472). On mental status examination, Ms.
Rossow noted: well-groomed appearance; average demeanor,
eye-contact, activity, and speech; moderate persecutory
delusions; logical and tangential thought process; euthymic
mood; full affect; cooperative behavior; and mildly impaired
attention and concentration. (Tr. 481). Ms. Rossow noted
Plaintiff needed to develop symptom management, employment,
and social support skills. (Tr. 476). In support, she
explained Plaintiff had “[i]nvasive thoughts”,
“delusions that people have ulterior motives and they
‘play' him”, and that Plaintiff was
“unable to work due to paranoid beliefs that co-workers
pretend to be friends and get close to him and then
‘play' him.” Id.; see also
Tr. 477. Ms. Rossow diagnosed panic disorder without
agoraphobia and dysthymic disorder, and noted to rule out
paranoid personality disorder and delusional disorder,
persecutory type. (Tr. 478). She recommended Plaintiff
continue treatment with his primary care provider and
psychiatrist for pharmacological management and referred him
to outpatient mental health therapy. Id.
continued counseling with Ms. Rossow through the rest of
2013. (Tr. 526-37). Throughout this time period, Ms. Rossow
never indicated Plaintiff's mood or affect was
“notable”. (Tr. 526, 528, 530, 532, 534). During
these sessions, Plaintiff reported he was pursuing
disability, and discussed his father's illness and death,
and issues with his family. (Tr. 526-37). Plaintiff reported
his “feelings that he is naïve and people are
‘out to get him'”. (Tr. 526).
continued to see both Dr. Williams and Ms. Rossow in 2014.
See Tr. 491-92, 559-66 (Dr. Williams); Tr. 539-43;
638-718 (Ms. Rossow).
February, Plaintiff reported to Dr. Williams attending anger
management classes after being convicted of disorderly
conduct related to a family dispute. (Tr. 491). He found the
anger management classes helpful. Id. In April,
Plaintiff reported concerns about his mother's health,
and problems with his siblings continued. (Tr. 563). In July,
Plaintiff reported he “continue[d] to believe that his
3 siblings are conspiring against him and their
mother”, and thought his siblings had
“bugged” his phone. (Tr. 561). Dr. Williams noted
Plaintiff “does have some fairly well developed and
persistent beliefs with a persecutory theme although not so
unusual as to characterize them as delusional without
evidence to support this to be the case. A more likely
consideration would be paranoid personality
traits/disorder.” (Tr. 561-62). In October, Plaintiff
again reported fears that his siblings were conspiring
against him. (Tr. 559). Throughout 2014, Dr. Williams noted
Plaintiffs mood remained consistent, and was euthymic or
stable. (Tr. 491, 559, 561, 563). Dr. Williams continued to
diagnose panic disorder without agoraphobia and dysthymic
disorder, and continued Plaintiff's Cymbalta
prescription. (Tr. 491, 559, 561-62, 563-64).
attended counseling sessions with Ms. Rossow throughout 2014.
See Tr. 539-43, 638-718. In these visits, he
discussed anger and anxiety triggers; family dynamics,
including anxiety surrounding his mother's health; and
paranoia regarding his siblings' perceived actions, as
well as coping skills to address these issues. Id.
At each visit except one, Ms. Rossow checked a box indicating
there was “[n]o significant change [in Plaintiff's
condition] from last visit” and did not check the boxes
indicating anything notable about Plaintiff's
mood/affect, thought process/orientation, or
behavior/functioning. (Tr. 539, 542, 641, 643, 646, 648, 650,
652, 654, 657, 659, 661, 663, 665, 667, 669, 671, 673, 675,
677, 679, 681, 684, 686, 688, 690, 693, 696, 698, 700, 702,
704, 706, 708, 711, 713, 717). At a December 2014, visit, Ms.
Rossow checked a box indicating Plaintiff's
“mood/affect” was notable, indicated Plaintiff
reported increased anxiety and restlessness, and discussed
coping skills. (Tr. 715).
continued to see both Dr. Williams and Ms. Rossow in 2015.
See Tr. 555-58, 772, 774 (Dr. Williams); Tr. 719-54
January, Plaintiff reported frustration to Dr. Williams over
“the lack of family cohesiveness and possibility that
they may be attempting to limit him from gaining access to
his guns”, which were taken away after the domestic
violence charge. (Tr. 557). In July, Dr. Williams noted
Plaintiff “states he has continued to do well overall
relative to his last appt.” (Tr. 555). He reported
counseling to be “helpful in general (not just with
anger management)”. Id. In July, Plaintiff
again reported “not much has changed”. (Tr. 772).
He expressed frustration with “what he views as overly
intrusive behavior from his sister” and worried about
what might happen if his mother died and his sister gained
control of the estate, as he was somewhat financially
dependent on his mother. Id. In October, Plaintiff
again stated he had “been managing okay” since
his last appointment. (Tr. 774). He again expressed
“some unresolved issues regarding trust with his
siblings”, but his mother had been “supportive
emotionally and financially”. Id. In January,
May, and July, Dr. Williams continued his prior assessments
of panic disorder without agoraphobia and dysthymic disorder.
(Tr. 555, 557, 772). In October, he added “[m]ajor
depression, recurrent - stable.” (Tr. 774). Throughout
2015, Plaintiff's mood was stable and euthymic, with no
evidence of psychosis or delusional thought process.
See Tr. 557; 555 (“[t]hought process reality
based”); 772 (“mood appears euthymic. No real
change in mental state relative to his previous
appt.”); 774 (“Thought process reasonable, no
evidence of rank paranoia or any delusional content.”).
Dr. Williams continued Plaintiff on Cymbalta, which he found
helpful. (Tr. 555-58, 772, 774).
2015 counseling sessions with Ms. Rossow continued to address
anger, anxiety, and coping skills; they also continued to
address Plaintiff's family dynamic issues and beliefs
that his siblings were out to get him. See Tr.
719-54. At each visit, Ms. Rossow checked a box indicating
there was “[n]o significant change [in Plaintiff's
condition] from last visit” and did not check the boxes
indicating anything notable about Plaintiff's
mood/affect, thought process/orientation, or
behavior/functioning. (Tr. 719, 721, 723, 725, 727, 730, 732,
734, 737, 739, 742, 745, 747, 749, 751, 753).
saw Dr. Williams again in January 2016 (after the ALJ's
decision). (Tr. 775). Plaintiff reported worries about his
mother's health, and “admit[ted] that assisting
with his mother and her care needs and multiple doctor
[appointments] has been wearing on him.” Id.
Dr. Williams noted Plaintiff's medication to be helpful,
and continued prior diagnoses: “[d]ysthymia, [p]anic
do, [m]ajor depression recurrent-stable.” Id.
October 2013, Dr. Williams completed a “Medical Source
Statement of Ability to do Work-Related Activities
(Mental)”. (Tr. 461-63). He opined Plaintiff had: mild
limitation in the ability to understand, remember, and carry
out simple instructions; moderate limitation in the ability
to make judgments on simple work-related decisions; and
marked limitation in the ability to understand, remember, and
carry out complex instructions, as well as to make judgments
on complex work-related decisions. (Tr. 461). For findings in
support, Dr. Williams wrote: “multiyear history of
working with patient to treat his depression and
anxiety”. Id. Dr. Williams also opined
Plaintiff had moderate limitation in the ability to interact
appropriately with the public; but marked limitation in the
ability to interact appropriately with supervisors or
coworkers; and marked to extreme limitation in responding
appropriately to usual work situations and to changes in a
routine work setting. (Tr. 462). In support, Dr. Williams
wrote: “multiple employment failures due to concerns
about thoughts, plans and observed behaviors of coworkers and
supervisors that provoke extreme anxiety in patient”
and “multiple previous accounts of job failure by
patient over the years”. Id. Dr. Williams
noted Plaintiff's judgment was impaired, in that
Plaintiff “over interprets intentions of others in a
threatening way.” Id. Dr. Williams opined
Plaintiff's symptoms had been present since 1993.
November 2013, Ms. Rossow completed a “Daily Activities
Questionnaire”. (Tr. 466-67). Ms. Rossow noted
Plaintiff lived alone in a home owned by his parents, and had
no barriers to independent living. (Tr. 467). He got along
well with his parents, but was estranged from his siblings,
and “avoids contact with neighbors because of
gossip.” Id. He saw his parents daily, his
siblings at family functions, and talked daily with friends.
Id. Ms. Rossow noted Plaintiff “reported he
gets along well [with coworkers and supervisors] until they
start playing games or gossip about him”. Id.
He had been disciplined at work in the past “for
exchange of words” and “was told to take 2-3
weeks off to deal with stress.” Id. Ms. Rossow
noted Plaintiff had “poor tolerance for stress,
experiences frequent headaches and perceives
persecution.” Id. She opined Plaintiff's
ability to prepare food was “limited by income”
but “should improve now that he has food stamps.”
(Tr. 466). He had no impairment in the ability to perform
household chores, drive or take public transportation, and
banking and bill paying. Id. He “could
improve” his personal hygiene. Id. She opined
Plaintiff regularly kept his appointments, complied with
treatment goals, actively participated in treatment, and was
working to improve coping skills. Id.
September 2014, Dr. Williams wrote a letter regarding
Mr. Fitzenreiter has been a patient of mine for many years at
Fulton County Health center, receiving treatment for chronic
mental illness which puts him at a significant disadvantage
in terms of being able to obtain and maintain employment. He
has substantial and longstanding issues with trust, even with
family members. His social anxiety causes such disruption in
his life that he barely even leaves home unless he absolutely
has to. Additionally, he suffers from panic disorder and
chronic low grade depressed mood over the course of many
years known as dysthymia.
It is my opinion beyond reasonable doubt that despite optimum
treatment, he maintains a sufficient burden of social
disability that it precludes him from being able to engage in
meaningful employment in the service of addressing his day to
day financial responsibilities.
November 2013, state agency reviewing physician Denise
Rabold, Ph.D., MA, CCC, SLP, reviewed Plaintiff's records
on behalf of the state agency. (Tr. 93-98; 107-13). She
concluded Plaintiff had mild restriction in activities of
daily living, moderate difficulties in social functioning,
and moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration,
persistence or pace. (Tr. 93). She concluded Plaintiff could:
1) understand and recall simple concrete 1-2 step
instructions, but may need occasional repetition; 2) perform
simple concrete 1-2 step tasks immediately without the
demands of fast pace or high production rates and would need
limited interaction/involvement with others; 3) interact
infrequently and superficially with others and would do best
with a small familiar group; and would 4) need a predictable
static work environment where changes can be easily
explained. (Tr. 97-98; 111-13).
March 2014, state agency physician Karla Voyten, Ph.D.
reviewed Plaintiff's records on behalf of the state
agency and affirmed Dr. Rabold's conclusions. (Tr.
also appeared and testified before the ALJ. (Tr. 77-86). When
the ALJ asked the VE to assume a hypothetical individual
limited in the way ultimately found in Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”), the VE
testified such an individual could perform jobs of order
picker, counter supply worker, or laundry worker. (Tr.
written decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Social Security Act through June
30, 2014, and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the alleged onset date. (Tr. 13). She found Plaintiff
had severe impairments of panic disorder without agoraphobia,
dysthymic disorder, type II diabetes mellitus, and left
shoulder arthritis; but these impairments did not meet or
medically equal a listed impairment either singly or in
combination. (Tr. 13-15). The ALJ then concluded Plaintiff
had the following mental RFC:
The claimant can understand, remember and carry out simple,
routine and repetitive tasks but not at a production rate
pace (e.g., assembly line work). He can understand, remember
and carry out simple work-related decisions. Changes should
be well explained and introduced slowly. The claimant also
needs goal and plans outlined. He can frequently interact
with supervisors. He can interact with coworkers and the
public superficially meaning the ability to greet people,
refer coworkers/public to other coworkers regarding
customers' demands or requests, answer questions about
time of day and give ...