United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
DONALD L. GARRETT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Of The Social Security Administration, Defendant.
DECISION AND ENTRY
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge.
Donald L. Garrett brings this case challenging the Social
Security Administration's partial denial of his
applications for disability-based benefits. He applied for
benefits-Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental
Security Income-in August 2013, asserting that as of October
10, 2007, he could no longer work due to his many health
problems, including (in part) Crohn's disease, acid
reflux, pain in his abdomen and lower back, and shortness of
Social Security Administration, mainly through a decision by
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Benjamin Chaykin, partially
granted and partially denied Plaintiff's applications
based on two conclusions: (1) he was not under a disability
from October 10, 2007 to May 30, 2014; (2) he was under a
disability starting on May 31, 2014. (Doc. #6,
PageID #s 101-13).
now contends that ALJ Chaykin erred by failing to properly
evaluate the evidence concerning his physical impairments
before May 31, 2014-particularly his Crohn's disease. He
argues that the ALJ improperly attempted to explain away the
severity of his Crohn's disease based on treatment notes
showing the disease was “stable” before May 31,
2014. Plaintiff further argues that the ALJ improperly
discredited his symptom severity because he was allegedly
“noncompliant” with his treatment regimen.
Commissioner finds no error in the ALJ's decision and
contends that even if some evidence of record could justify
other findings, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
findings concerning the medical evidence predating May 31,
Plaintiff and the Administrative Hearing
was under fifty years old on his alleged disability onset
date. He is thus a “younger person” under social
security regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1563(c). He has a high-school education. His past
jobs involved work as a janitor and a machine operator.
administrative hearing in August 2015, Plaintiff testified
that he is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 166
pounds. He was separated from his wife at that time. He lived
with his sister, sleeping on her couch on the first level.
(Doc. #6, PageID #126). He has to climb the stairs
to the second level to find a bathroom with a shower. When he
does this, he gets out of breath. Id. at 129. He
explained, “My bones ache and…, I cramp a
lot….” Id. He does not shower every
indicated that he had to quit his last job (a part-time job)
cleaning and performing maintenance because he kept getting
sick and going to the emergency room. Id. at 131-32.
He needed to empty his colostomy bag every 20 to 30 minutes,
which made it difficult for him to even sleep. Id.
at 133-34, 139. The insertion site of his colostomy bag would
get infected a lot because it was hard for him to care for
the site due to his “hands cramping all the time.
Id. at 133. He was consequently in and out of the
hospital for treatment.
also has problems with his heart. When asked why he quit is
part-time job, he testified:
The thing of it is I kept getting sick. Like … one
time after shoveling snow I got sick and had to go to the
hospital for three days because my heart was all out of
synch. I can drink a glass of cold water and it just start[s]
beating rapidly. And I think I got sick … in May. I
don't know if it was my Crohn's.
I forgot. Either I was going to the hospital for that
[Crohn's disease] or going to the hospital for my
Id. at 134.
also indicated that before he began to use a colostomy bag,
he would “have accidents on [him]self.”
Id. at 139. He explained, “So that was another
concern about me really holding a job basically. I
couldn't make it to the restroom in time. I could be
riding down the street and I have to use the restroom.”
typical day, Plaintiff testified that his sister helped him
fix something to eat. He takes his medications for his heart
problem, Crohn's disease, anxiety, and depression. He
also takes iron supplements. During a typical day, he lies
down unless he has a doctor's appointment. Id.
also has difficulty breathing, starting a year before the
ALJ's hearing. Physical activity, even just talking, can
affect his breathing. Id. at 139. He had to stop
four times while he was walking the two and a half blocks to
the administrative hearing. Id. at 140. He noted he
gets dizzy when he bends over. He cannot tie his shoes, so he
wears slip-on shoes or slippers. Id. He rarely left
the house to do anything. Id.
questioned by his attorney, Plaintiff testified that he had
lost at least 50 pounds from his highest weight between 220
and 230 pounds. He believes it is due to his Crohn's
disease, and he was bleeding a lot before he began using a
colostomy bag. He was hospitalized for blood loss.
Id. at 141. He had been treated with Remicaid
injections in 2004, which caused “a real bad infection
in [his] leg… inside [his] bone.” Id.
at 142. He reported, “I couldn't walk it was so
painful.” Id. at 143. He had also been treated
with Humira injections, but he believes that Humira caused
him to need a colostomy bag. He was once rushed to the
hospital with emergency surgery due to a hole in his
intestine. Id. He explained that both the Remicaid
and Humira made his Crohn's disease worse due to
significant side effects. Id. at 143-44.
other witness during the administrative hearing was a
vocational expert. He testified that a hypothetical person
with Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and
residual functional capacity before May 31, 2014 could
perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy
such as a survey worker, production assembler, or a mail
clerk. Id. at 146-47. The vocational expert also
testified that if this hypothetical person would also be off
task more that than 15% of the workday beyond normal breaks,
he “would be subject to disciplinary action and
subsequent termination.” Id. at 148.