United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
PATRICIA D. WADDELL, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
L. Graham Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Patricia D. Waddell filed this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) seeking review of an unfavorable decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”) denying her applications for
Title II benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income
disability benefits. For the reasons that follow, it is
RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Statement of Errors be
OVERRULED, and that judgment be entered in favor of
filed her applications for Title II benefits and Title XVI
Supplemental Security Income disability benefits on November
7, 2013, alleging that she has been disabled since September
27, 2013, due to arthritis in her feet and back pain. (Tr.
214-21, 250, PAGEID #: 260-67, 297). Plaintiff's claims
were denied initially on March 11, 2014 (Tr. 80-95, PAGEID #:
124-39; Tr. 96-111, PAGEID #: 140-55), and upon
reconsideration on July 7, 2014 (Tr. 114- 29, PAGEID #:
158-73; Tr. 130-45, PAGEID #: 174-89). She filed a Request
for Hearing on July 21, 2014. (Tr. 159-60, PAGEID #:
Law Judge (the “ALJ”) Robert H. Schwartz held an
administrative hearing by video conference on March 2, 2016.
(Tr. 48-77, PAGEID #: 91-120). On April 29, 2016, the ALJ
issued a decision denying Plaintiff benefits (Tr. 25-46,
PAGEID #: 68-89). On May 12, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review and adopted the ALJ's
decision as the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-7,
PAGEID #: 44-50).
filed this case on July 9, 2017, and the Commissioner filed
the administrative record on September 11, 2017. (Doc. 9).
Plaintiff filed a Statement of Specific Errors on November 9,
2017 (Doc. 12), and the Commissioner responded on December
26, 2017 (Doc. 14). Plaintiff did not file a reply.
Relevant Medical Evidence
case concerns the ALJ's evaluation of the mental health
evidence. Hence, the Court's review of the evidence is
limited to the mental health opinions.
referral from the Division of Disability Determination
(“DDD”), clinical psychologist and
neuropsychologist Gary S. Sarver, Ph.D. conducted a
psychological evaluation of Plaintiff on February 10, 2014,
and completed a corresponding report on February 13, 2014.
(Tr. 569, PAGEID #: 617). During that appointment, Plaintiff
expressed that she is unable to work because of a back
impairment, and she applied for DDD services because her
“husband is on it.” (Id.).
Sarver noted that Plaintiff's independent living skills
appeared “to be adequate and she does participate in
the day-to-day demands of living including shopping, bill
paying, household management, and childcare.” (Tr. 570,
PAGEID #: 618). Plaintiff indicated that she has no friends
and stated that “people make [her] nervous.” (Tr.
571, PAGEID #: 619). Plaintiff reported past work in a
laundry and a glass factory; and as a cashier.
(Id.). Plaintiff “[got] along okay” with
her supervisors and coworkers. (Id.). When asked
about the public, Plaintiff stated, “I don't want
to be around no one.” (Id.).
Sarver noted Plaintiff has no history of treatment by a
mental health specialist. (Id.). When Dr. Sarver
asked Plaintiff why she was depressed, she responded “I
don't know.” (Tr. 571, PAGEID #: 619). Plaintiff
also indicated that she “is angry” at herself
“7 days a week.” (Tr. 572, PAGEID #: 620). Dr.
Sarver ultimately found that:
[t]he data presently available … suggests a diagnosis
of adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression. This
accounts for her weight gain, diminished energy, disturbed
sleep, depression, and affective instability. It also
accounts for her avoidance of others and her desire to be
alone. This is exacerbated by her apparent low level of
intellectual functioning and poorly developed coping skills
which limits her ability to adaptively manage her stress and
anxiety. She apparently channels psychological concerns and
complaints into somatic issues.
Nevertheless, she is able to accomplish her [activities of
daily living] independently and adequately. She was able to
recall a detailed and extensive personal, family, and work
history. She had no significant difficulties with digit
recall or word recall. She reported no significant problems
functioning in the work place although she was fired for
missing work on one occasion. She generally got along
reasonably well with supervisors and coworkers.
(Tr. 574, PAGEID #: 622).
Sarver concluded his report with Plaintiff's functional
Claimant's abilities and limitations in understanding,
remembering, and carrying out instructions:
Her apparent below average level of intellectual functioning
suggests that she should have no particular difficulty in
understanding, remembering, or carrying out simple job
instructions. She is likely to experience consistent
difficulties as the job instructions become increasingly
complex. Her depression and anxiety, and poor coping skills,
may attenuate her ability to carry out complex job
The claimant's abilities and limitations in maintaining
attention and concentration, and in maintaining persistence
and pace, to perform simple tasks and to perform multistep
She demonstrated no significant problems during the interview
of having difficulty with attentional pace or persistence.
She had no significant problem with digit recall or word
recall and she was able to recall a detailed and extensive
personal, family, and work history. She does appear capable
of engaging in her ADLs independently and adequately. Her
depression and anxiety, in conjunction with her poor coping
skills, may attenuate her capacity to reliably perform
The claimant's abilities and limitations and responding
appropriately to supervision and coworkers in a work setting:
Historically, she has manifested no particular difficulty
getting along with supervisors and coworkers in the work
place. Her depression and anxiety may episodically attenuate
The claimant's abilities and limitations in responding
appropriately to work pressures in a work setting:
She is likely to have difficulty organizing, structuring, and
working towards goals. She is likely to have difficulty
containing her anger, managing her frustration, and
controlling her impulses. She is likely to depend upon other
people and/or situations to structure life for her. Her poor
coping skills limit her capacity to deal with the
complexities and demands of the normative work situation. Her
usual remedy is to exit the job situation or avoid it. She
has a particularly difficult time with self-comfort and
appropriately managing her anxiety and depression.
(Tr. 574-75, PAGEID #: 622-23).
Haskins and Dr. Lai
psychologist Dr. Kristen Haskins completed a mental residual
capacity assessment on February 27, 2014. (Tr. 106-108,
PAGEID #: 150-52). Dr. Haskins opined that Plaintiff is
moderately limited in her ability to understand and remember
detailed instructions. (Tr. 107, PAGEID #: 151). Dr. Haskins
specified that Plaintiff “retains the ability to
perform one to four step tasks.” (Id.). She
also found Plaintiff has moderate limitations in sustained
concentration and persistence, stating that Plaintiff
“retains the ability to perform simple one to four step
tasks in a setting without strict production quotas and
occasional contact with others as well as no need for close
sustained focus/concentration.” (Tr. 108, PAGEID #:
Haskins determined that Plaintiff is markedly limited in her
ability to interact appropriately with the public and
moderately limited in her ability to accept instructions and
respond appropriately to criticism and in her ability to get
along with coworkers or peers without distracting them or
exhibiting behavioral extremes. (Id.). However, Dr.
Haskins determined that ...