United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Michael H. Watson Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mona Jane Tonnous, filed this action seeking review of a
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her Title II Social
Security Disability Benefits and XVI Supplemental Security
Income Disability applications. For the reasons that follow,
it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (Doc. 13) be OVERRULED,
and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendant.
filed applications for Title II Social Security Disability
Benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Disability
Benefits on September 17, 2010, alleging disability since
October 1, 2005. (See Doc. 9-3, Tr. 127-28 PAGEID #:
173-74). Her applications were denied initially, after
reconsideration, and by an Administrative Law Judge.
(Id., Tr. 189, 191, PAGEID #: 235, 237). By order
dated September 2, 2014, the Appeals Council remanded the
case for further proceedings. (Doc. 9-3, Tr. 256, PAGEID #:
the remand, Administrative Law Judge Kristen King (the
“ALJ”) convened a video remand hearing on
November 19, 2015, at which time Plaintiff amended her
alleged onset date to September 1, 2010. (Doc. 9-2, Tr.
41-76, PAGEID #: 86-121). On March 9, 2016, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision. (Id., Tr. 15, PAGEID #: 60).
Plaintiff again requested review of the administrative
decision to the Appeals Council (id., Tr. 7, PAGEID
#: 52), which denied her request on March 7, 2017, and
adopted the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's
final decision (id., Tr. 1, PAGEID #: 46).
filed this case on May 8, 2017 (Doc. 3), and the Commissioner
filed the administrative record on July 11, 2017 (Doc. 9).
Plaintiff filed a Statement of Specific Errors (Doc. 13), the
Commissioner responded (Doc. 15), and Plaintiff filed a Reply
Relevant Medical Background
13, 2015, Plaintiff saw Dr. Stephen Scrimenti, a licensed
psychologist, for issues with depression. (Doc. 9-8, Tr.
1079, PAGEID #: 1130). Dr. Scrimenti's treatment notes
from that appointment state that Plaintiff was receptive and
positively engaged. (Id.). At another appointment on
June 10, 2015, Dr. Scrimenti stated that Plaintiff was eating
and sleeping better and that her “depression ha[d]
lifted to a significant degree.” (Id., Tr.
1080, PAGEID #: 1131). On September 1, 2015, Dr. Scrimenti
again noted that Plaintiff's mood had lifted, and that
Plaintiff “appeared well-nourished with a positive
appetite, is sleeping well, using medication appropriately,
continues to help her mother and father, caretaker for her
sickly husband, and parents her child.” (Id.,
Tr. 1081, PAGEID #: 1132). At that time, Plaintiff
“denied any current problems with depression or
anxiety” and her response to intervention was
“positive.” (Id.). On October 6, 2015,
Dr. Scrimenti opined that Plaintiff “continues to
experience depression especially in the context of a recent
car accident (along with her persistent back pain)” but
also that Plaintiff's response to intervention was
positive. (Id., Tr. 1083, PAGEID #: 1134).
November 3, 2015, Dr. Scrimenti completed a Mental Impairment
Questionnaire. (Id., Tr. 1086, PAGEID #: 1137). In
the Questionnaire, Dr. Scrimenti stated that Plaintiff's
prognosis was “poor” and checked the boxes
indicating Plaintiff presented with fourteen different
symptoms, but offered no explanation or elaboration.
(Id., Tr. 1087-88, PAGEID #: 1138-39). In terms of
functional limitations, Dr. Scrimenti checked that Plaintiff
had marked difficulties in maintaining concentration,
persistence, or pace and that Plaintiff had experienced 4 or
more episodes of decompensation within the last 12 months.
(Id., Tr. 1089, PAGEID #: 1140). Ultimately, Dr.
Scrimenti checked the box that said Plaintiff's
impairments would require her to be absent from work more
than four days per months and that she was incapable of
working 8 hours a day, 5 days per week. (Id., Tr.
1090-93, PAGEID #: 1141-44).
Relevant Testimony at the Administrative Hearing
asked why Plaintiff believed she was unable to work,
Plaintiff stated “[m]y back won't allow me, and
physically and mentally I'm not able to hold down a
job.” (Doc. 9-2, Tr. 49, PAGEID #: 94). Plaintiff then
explained a typical morning routine: wake up around 6:00 or
7:00 a.m., make coffee and toast for breakfast, sit on the
couch with her coffee and “watch a little TV, go
“for a little walk, ” and lay down for a half
hour to forty-five minutes around 11:00 a.m. (Id.,
Tr. 50, PAGEID #: 95). Next, Plaintiff will “[f]ix
something for lunch, maybe a sandwich, set the table and eat,
and then sit on the couch for a little bit, watch a little
TV, wait on [her] [nine-year old] son to get home from school
while cooking, trying to get supper ready for him.”
(Id., Tr. 50-51, PAGEID#: 95-96). Plaintiff
explained that, after dinner, she watches TV with her son,
helps with his homework, and maybe plays a board game for 10
to 20 minutes before he goes to bed. (Id., Tr. 54,
PAGEID #: 99).
terms of household chores, Plaintiff stated that she and her
husband both do the dishes, do the laundry together once a
week, and grocery shop together about once a month.
(Id., Tr. 51-53, PAGEID #: 96-98). Plaintiff
testified that she has no problems interacting with other
customers or cashiers at the store. (Id., Tr. 52,
PAGEID #: 97). Plaintiff also stated that she sees her
parents “[a]bout every day” and travels to their
house. (Id., Tr. 65, PAGEID #: 110). Plaintiff later
testified, however, that she “just don't like to be
around a lot of people. I don't like to talk to a lot of
people.” (Id., Tr. 64, PAGEID #: 109).
Plaintiff also testified that she has panic attacks about
once a month. (Id., Tr. 66, PAGEID #: 111).