United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
TRACI C. BAILEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
DECISION AND ENTRY
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
Traci C. Bailey applied for period of disability, Disability
Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income in June
and July 2013, asserting that she could no longer work due to
bipolar disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, and post-traumatic
stress disorder. The Social Security Administration denied
her claims initially and upon reconsideration. At
Plaintiff's request, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Gregory G. Kenyon conducted a hearing where both she and a
vocational expert testified. Shortly thereafter, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was not eligible for benefits
because she is not under a “disability” as
defined in the Social Security Act. She brings this case
challenging the Social Security Administration's denial
of her applications.
case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (Doc. #7), the Commissioner's Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. #11), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #12), and
the administrative record (Doc. #6).
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 Kenyon's non-disability decision.
asserts that she has been under a “disability”
beginning on June 6, 2013. She was thirty-nine 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 a
high school education with some college. See Id.
§§ 404.1564(b)(4), 416.964(b)(4).
testified at the hearing before ALJ Kenyon that she has
bipolar disorder. (Doc. #6, PageID #92). She has
mood swings that “happen periodically” about
every three to four weeks. Id. She has “either
manic or depressive” episodes. Id. Each one
lasts three to four days; she does not know when they will
occur or how long they will last. Id. at 92, 101.
“The depressive episodes happen more often, but the
manic episodes are more intense.” Id. During
her depressive episodes, Plaintiff experiences fatigue and
“rarely get[s] out of bed.” Id. at 93.
“Housework goes to the wayside, ” and she lacks
concentration and engagement in any kind of social situation.
Id. She is also less likely to take showers.
Id. at 97. In comparison, during manic episodes,
Plaintiff stays awake for two or three days without sleeping.
Id. at 94, 99. She has delusions: “I see that
there's someone there that isn't there, but in my
mind they are. And then I also have seen … my
son's father who passed in 2002 …. I'll talk
to him as if he's in the room, like he's there. And
then I had a couple of times where I thought someone was
there [but] I was told, then, later that [the person]
wasn't even there.” Id. at 94. And,
“They talk back to me.” Id.
often has racing thoughts-“things just keep coming
through my head. I can't relax…. I'm
constantly thinking what if, worrying, anxiety, sometimes
panic.” Id. at 95. She has panic attacks
during which her heart races, she loses her breath, she
cries, and she sometimes rocks. Id. The frequency of
attacks varies-“Sometimes it could be [a] couple times
a day and it could be a couple days.” Id. To
calm down, she tries to take deep breaths and remove herself
from the situation. Id. at 96. At least once a week,
she has flashback episodes and nightmares about her
ex-boyfriend who assaulted her. Id. at 96-97. She
has crying spells every day or every other day. Id.
has been seeing her psychiatrist, Dr. Stephanie Fitz, at
South Community since 2003. Id. at 96. Typically,
she sees her every four to six weeks, and “It's
been about every four weeks … since she's been
doing medication changes.” Id. Indeed, Dr.
Fitz changes her medications “usually every month that
[she] see[s] her.” Id. at 96, 99. Plaintiff
explained that the medicine is helpful “at
times.” Id. at 95. But, she has some side
effects-weight gain and fatigue or sleepiness. Id.
spring of 2013, Dr. Fitz spoke to Plaintiff about the
possibility of low stress volunteer work to bolster her
self-esteem. Id. at 100. However, “Because of
the frequent changes in my medication, she suggested that I
not try to pursue that because … she wanted to get me
more stable.” Id.
her last hearing in 2011, Plaintiff testified that her mental
health status has become “increasingly worse.”
Id. at 99. She has “more frequent episodes
lasting somewhat longer.” Id. She experiences
crying spells nearly every day or every other day.
Id. at 98. She had social anxiety and no longer
socializes with friends. Id.
lives in a condo by herself. Id. at 91. She has a
fourteen-year-old son who lives with his grandparents
“most of the time.” Id. at 90-91. He
spends a “couple nights” a week with her.
Id. at 91. On an ordinary day, she wakes up and
watches television. Id. at 98. Plaintiff has a
driver's license but does not drive because she had
trouble concentrating. Id. at 91. “The last
few years I've had several accidents, and so the doctor
and I came to an agreement that … I should probably
stop driving.” Id. She leaves home
“[m]aybe every three, four days.” Id. at
98. She goes to doctor's appointments, the grocery store,
and, at night, to her parent's house to see her son.
Stephanie Fitz, M.D.
Fitz, Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, completed a
mental impairment questionnaire on October 7, 2014.
Id. at 623-26. She indicated that she had treated
Plaintiff since 2003. Id. at 623. She diagnosed
bipolar disorder and assigned a Global Assessment of
Functioning score of 40. Id. Dr. Fitz opined that
Plaintiff's impairments have lasted for at least twelve
consecutive months. Id. at 624. When asked to
identify her patient's signs and symptoms, she indicated
that Plaintiff completed the responses. Id. at 623.
The signs and symptoms Plaintiff identified include, for
example, poor memory, emotional lability, recurrent panic
attacks, suicidal ideation or attempts, perceptual
disturbances, decreased energy, manic syndrome, and
hostility/irritability. Id. Dr. Fitz opined that
Plaintiff was extremely limited in 21 out of 25 areas of
mental work-related functioning, including-but not limited
to-her ability to maintain social functioning; work in
coordination with or in proximity to others without being
distracted by them or exhibiting extreme behavior; sustaining
a normal routine without special supervision; and
understanding, remembering, and carrying out short and simple
instructions. Id. at 625-26. She concluded that
Plaintiff would be absent from work more than three times per
month. Id. at 624-25.
Frank Orosz, Ph.D., & Paul Tangeman, Ph.D.
August 5, 2013, Dr. Orosz reviewed Plaintiff's record.
Id. at 131-38. He opined that Plaintiff had moderate
restrictions in her activities of daily living; moderate
difficulties in social functioning; moderate limitations in
concentration, persistence and pace; and no episodes of
decompensation of extended duration. Id. at 136. Dr.
Orosz adopted the mental residual functional capacity from
the prior ALJ's decision on January 26, 2012: “Full
range of work at all exertional levels, simple to moderately
complex tasks in a low stress work environment [without] fast