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Maxwell v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

May 11, 2018

JODIE M. MAXWELL, Plaintiff,

          Algenon L. Marbley Judge.



         Plaintiff, Jodie M. Maxwell, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 1383(c) seeking review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”). For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. 8) be OVERRULED, and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendant.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI on September 26, 2013, alleging disability beginning on October 13, 2009. (Tr. 17, PAGEID #: 57). She later amended her onset date to March 6, 2014. (Tr. 272, PAGEID #: 315). The date last insured was December 31, 2015. (Tr. 18, PAGEID #: 58). Administrative Law Judge Thomas L. Wang (the “ALJ”) held a hearing on January 28, 2016. (Tr. 36-44, PAGEID #: 76-84). Plaintiff did not appear. (Id.). Plaintiff showed good cause for not appearing, and a second hearing was held on May 11, 2016. (Tr. 17, 45-62, PAGEID #: 57; 85-102). On June 16, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's applications for benefits. (Tr. 17-28, PAGEID #: 57-68). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-7, PAGEID #: 41-47).

         Plaintiff filed the instant case seeking a review of the Commissioner's decision on September 22, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed her Statement of Errors on March 26, 2018 (Doc. 8), Defendant filed an Opposition (Doc. 9), and no reply was filed.

         A. Relevant Hearing Testimony

         1. January 28, 2016 Hearing

         Plaintiff did not appear at her initial hearing due to transportation issues, but her attorney was present. (Tr. 38-39, PAGEID #: 78-79). At the hearing, the ALJ asked Plaintiff's counsel if there were any documents or exhibits that were still outstanding, to which counsel replied “[t]he record's complete, Your Honor.” (Tr. 39, PAGEID #: 79).

         2. May 11, 2016 Hearing

         Plaintiff was present and represented by the counsel for the second hearing. (Tr. 47, PAGEID #: 87). The ALJ began Plaintiff's second hearing as follows:

ALJ: Any additional documents to present today?
Atty: No, Your Honor.
ALJ: And the record [is] complete?
Atty: Yes.


         At that hearing, Plaintiff's counsel clarified that Plaintiff's alleged onset date was amended from October 2009 to March 6, 2014. (Tr. 48, PAGEID #: 88). Plaintiff testified that, even after March 6, 2014, she worked part time at Golden Corral and Funk's Ice Cream, but was fired due to behavioral issues. (Tr. 49, PAGEID #: 89). More specifically, Plaintiff stated that at Golden Corral she “got really angry with the manager and [] threw a pan at him[, ]” and, at Funk's, she started crying at work and was subsequently let go. (Id.).

         Plaintiff testified that her mental health issues cause her inability to work; she has no physical issues that prevent her from working. (Tr. 50, PAGEID #: 90). When asked by the ALJ why Plaintiff believes she is unable to work, she testified that “there's days that I don't even want to get out of bed and there's days that I'm just angry at people and I just don't want to be around nobody.” (Id.). Plaintiff's counsel later asked what her biggest problem was regarding work, and she responded “[b]eing around people.” (Tr. 56, PAGEID #: 96). Plaintiff later explained that she doesn't “like when people come at [her] in an angry way because then [she]'ll flip out on them.” (Tr. 52, PAGEID #: 92).

         Plaintiff also testified that she experiences significant stress and worries daily. (Tr. 51, PAGEID #: 91). When asked what induces her stress, she responded “[i]t's just that I really don't like people.” (Tr. 53, PAGEID #: 93). Plaintiff further testified that she has mood swings “every other day, maybe every day.” (Tr. 55, PAGEID #: 95). Although Plaintiff takes medications for her mental health, she testified they do not help. (Tr. 51, PAGEID #: 91). Plaintiff stated her therapy “helps a little bit but not as much as it should.” (Id.). Plaintiff testified that she used illegal drugs previously, but had not used cocaine in years and indicated she had been clean from drugs “for about going on four years now.” (Id.).

         At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff lived with her mom and stepdad and testified as to her relationship with them:

Q: How's your relationship with them?
A: I hate my stepdad. I wish I could kill him.
Q: Okay. Do you get into altercations with him?
A: Yeah. We just did yesterday.
Q: What - how about your mom?
A: I get a tude [sic] with her sometimes, but not like I do with him.
Q: Okay. What sort of things make you mad that she does?
A: She tells me - just basically they get on my - I don't know what to say.

(Tr. 54, PAGEID #: 94). Plaintiff also explained that she was single because she used to physically abuse her ex-girlfriend: “I just-she would argue with me and then I'd just get mad and hit her.” (Id.). Plaintiff testified that she was previously incarcerated for domestic violence. (Tr. 54-55, PAGEID #: 94-95).

         In terms of daily activities, Plaintiff testified that she tries to help her mom out around the house, but she doesn't have the motivation. (Tr. 55, PAGEID #: 95). Plaintiff stated that she hates going to stores ...

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