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Owen v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

February 6, 2018

REBECCA OWEN, Plaintiff,

          District Judge Walter H. Rice


          Sharon L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Rebecca Owen brings this case challenging the Social Security Administration's denial of her applications for period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income. She applied for benefits on July 23, 2013, asserting that she could no longer work a substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Gregory G. Kenyon concluded that she was not eligible for benefits because she is not under a “disability” as defined in the Social Security Act.

         The case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #7), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #10), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #11), and the administrative record (Doc. #6).

         Plaintiff 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 's non-disability decision.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff asserts that she has been under a “disability” beginning May 1, 2013. She was thirty-one 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). She has at least a high school education. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1564(b)(4), 416.964(b)(4).[2]

         A. Plaintiff's Testimony

         Plaintiff testified at the hearing before ALJ Kenyon that she has a lot of pain. (Doc. #6, PageID #s 62-63). “A lot of [her] pain is from the waist down.” Id. at 63. She has had lower back pain for three or four years. Id. She described this pain as “like a pinching, just uncomfortable.” Id. On a scale from one to ten, she would place her pain at six. Id. For her pain, she takes ibuprofen three times a day; uses a massage chair for about an hour as often as every day; and takes hot baths. Id. at 63-64.

         Plaintiff described her hip pain as uncomfortable and “[m]aybe a throbbing.” Id. She would rate the pain at five or six on a ten-point scale. Id. She also has pain through her legs and knees. Id. at 65. That pain is usually an eight. Id. Additionally, she occasionally has swelling and “[a] lot of popping whenever I move my legs. Cracking, popping.” Id.

         Plaintiff has fibromyalgia. Id. at 75. She has pain on a daily basis and tense muscles. Id. She has tenderpoints in her shoulders, neck, part of her back, legs, and arms. Id. at 76. She also has sciatica. Id. She explained, “it causes a pinching and burning feeling on whatever side it's on, and it's swelling. And pain shoots down my leg. So, every time that I go to walk, whichever side it's on, it causes a lot of pain.” Id.

         Plaintiff has diabetes. Id. at 65. She tests her blood glucose every other day and takes pills for it. Id. She has high blood sugar a couple times a week. Id. at 73. When her sugar is high, she gets a headache or starts sweating. Id. If she takes her medication, “it usually takes about an hour to come down.” Id. She experiences neuropathy in her hands and feet. Id. at 66. It causes numbness and tingling in her feet “pretty much all of the time” and in her hands three times a week. Id. at 66, 73. In her hands, the numbness usually lasts a few hours. Id. at 73.

         Plaintiff has had some problems with her immune system. Id. at 66. She explained, “if anybody is sick, I'm going to catch it.” Id. at 67. She is also always tired. Id. She spends most her day lying down. Id. She gets bronchitis three times a year. Id. at 80. Every time she gets it, she is usually in bed for a couple weeks. Id.

         She also has kidney stones-one every two to three months. Id. at 80. They cause pain in her kidneys and lower back, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. Id. When she has them, her pain is at ten. Id. at 81. She typically passes it in three days or it has to be surgically removed. Id.

         Plaintiff has Cushing's syndrome. Id. at 77. Her symptoms include thinning in her legs and hips and discoloration-“it gets red, white, purple, spidery discoloration.” Id. She has it a few times a week and lasts all day. Id. at 78.

         Plaintiff has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. Id. at 67. Her “anxiety is, kind of, under control, ” but she still has shakiness and struggles with being around people.” Id. at 68. She only leaves her home “when [she] absolutely [has] to.” Id. at 69. Leaving for the hearing was the first time she left home in a couple weeks. Id. She can leave the house by herself but she usually has her husband take her anywhere she needs to go. Id. She takes Klonopin for depression. Id. at 68. However, she still has crying spells three or four times a week. Id. The spells usually last an hour. Id. at 74. She also has trouble focusing on reading. Id. at 68. When Plaintiff gets “really angry[, ]” she sometimes pulls out her hair. Id. at 78. It happens about once a week. Id. at 79.

         Plaintiff sometimes hears things-usually music or people talking-that are not there. Id. at 78. She experiences this almost every night. Id. When she hears things, she cannot sleep. Id. at 79. When she cannot sleep, it causes her anxiety. Id.

         Plaintiff testified that she believes that she is not able to work a full-time job because of “all the pain that [she has].” Id. at 72. “And whenever I'm around people, I get sick. Even with doctor notations, the amount of work that I miss, I'm not a reliable person. And I end up losing my job.” Id. She has been let go from every job (except one) that she has had because she was absent so often. Id.

         Plaintiff lives in an apartment with her husband and cats. Id. at 61, 71. On a typical day, she wakes up at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., and “my main priority is the cats. Just make sure they're taken care of. And ...

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