United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
KATHLEEN B. BURKE, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tina Lasheil Stargen (“Stargen”) seeks judicial
review of the final decision of Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). Doc. 1. This Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This case is before the
undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to the consent of the
parties. Doc. 14.
reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is
filed for SSI in January 2001, and was awarded benefits
effective January 1, 2001. Tr. 147. She was found disabled
because she met the listing for affective disorders. Tr. 180,
287. In 2013, the Agency's Cooperative Disability
Investigation Unit (“CDIU”) began investigating
Stargen. Tr. 180. On December 11, 2013, the Agency notified
Stargen that it was revising its original 2001 finding and
was now finding that she was not disabled. Tr. 147, 187.
Stargen appealed but her appeal was denied. Tr. 196, 198,
203. Stargen requested an administrative hearing and a
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Charles Shinn on April 26, 2016. Tr.
1098-1130. In his May 27, 2016, decision (Tr. 147-170), the
ALJ determined that, prior to January 1, 2010, Stargen did
not have a medically determinable impairment (Tr. 150), and
that, as of January 1, 2010, Stargen did have medically
determinable impairments that were severe (Tr. 155). The ALJ
concluded that there are jobs in significant numbers in the
national economy that Stargen could perform, i.e. she is not
disabled. Tr. 169. Stargen requested review of the ALJ's
decision by the Appeals Council (Tr. 142) and, on March 17,
2017, the Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 7-10.
Personal and Vocational Evidence
was born in 1967 and was 33 years old on the date her
application was filed. Tr. 169. She graduated from high
school and has no past relevant work. Tr. 1108.
Relevant Medical Evidence
was treated by her primary care physician, Jean Dib, M.D.,
from January 2010 through January 2015, for, among other
things, diabetes mellitus and asthma. See, e.g., Tr. 420,
621. She had a severe exacerbation of asthma in December 2010
(Tr. 406) after a sinus infection (Tr. 407) and Dr. Dib
changed her asthma medication (Tr. 406), which resolved her
symptoms (Tr. 405).
March 2011 she saw Dr. Dib for clearance prior to a scheduled
knee surgery. Tr. 403. Dr. Dib stated that Stargen had
obstructive sleep apnea and a history of COPD and asthma, and
that she did not take her medications. Tr. 403. Nor did she
or had she used her CPAP machine. Tr. 403, 412.
3, 2011, Stargen had left knee replacement surgery. Tr. 400.
On May 23, Stargen told Dr. Dib that she had developed left
knee pain a week prior. Tr. 399. Dr. Dib observed that she
had refused antibiotics while in the hospital. Tr. 399. He
advised that she use her cane or walker and he gave her
Percocet. Tr. 399.
August 2011, Stargen complained to Dr. Dib of lower back pain
radiating to her left leg. Tr. 396. He ordered an MRI, which
showed mild facet arthritis in Stargen's lower lumbar
spine with no disc bulge, no canal stenosis, and no foraminal
narrowing. Tr. 341. Stargen asked Dr. Dib for a prescription
for a cane, which he provided. Tr. 395.
did not complain of any knee pain in her October 17, 2011,
appointment with Dr. Dib, but did complain of “severe
pain in the right hip area mainly when she stands on
it.” Tr. 393. Upon exam, she had clear lungs, no joint,
bone or muscle tenderness, no edema, and some tenderness in
her right foot. Tr. 393. On October 19, 2011, Stargen's
orthopedist Thomas A. Krupko, M.D., remarked that her left
knee was doing great. Tr. 459. Stargen reported pain in her
right knee, and Dr. Krupko advised that she lose weight and
exercise to improve it. Tr. 459.
April 25, 2012, Dr. Dib observed that Stargen's asthma
was under good control with medication, her diabetes appeared
to be stable with current management, and her other medical
problems were stable. Tr. 389.
28, 2012, Stargen saw Dr. Dib reporting right knee pain after
she bumped it when she almost fell down from a roller coaster
the day before when she was at a water park. Tr. 388.
January 24, 2014, Stargen complained of anxiety after she
lost all of her medications in a house fire. Tr. 656. Dr. Dib
started her on Xanax. Tr. 656.
March 17, 2014, Stargen started treating with pulmonologist
Abdul Basit, M.D. Tr. 522. She stated that she had shortness
of breath while she had been in New Orleans and also reported
fatigue. Tr. 522. Dr. Basit observed that she had been
diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea but had not used her
CPAP machine for two years. Tr. 522. Upon exam, she had
normal findings: her lungs were clear to auscultation, she
had no rhonchi with inspiratory breathing, no clubbing,
cyanosis, or edema in her extremities, intact sensation, and
normal motor strength. Tr. 524.
2, 2014, Stargen saw Dr. Dib and complained of severe
depression which was getting worse. Tr. 637. He started her
on Zoloft. Tr. 637.
January 19, 2015, Stargen saw Dr. Dib stating that she had
had anxiety attacks. Tr. 621. He started her on Celexa. Tr.
December 21, 2015, Stargen went to the Alliance Community
Hospital complaining of fever, chills, cough, congestion, and
body aches. Tr. 806. Upon exam, she was in no respiratory
distress and had no accessory muscle use or wheezing. Tr.
806. She had normal, non-tender range of motion in her
extremities and normal gait, strength, and sensation. Tr.
806-807. She was oriented, calm, and had a normal affect. Tr.
807. She was discharged home stable with bronchitis and
asthma. Tr. 808.
Relevant Medical Opinion Evidence
1. Treating Source Opinion
February 18, 2016, Dr. Dib completed forms on behalf of
Stargen. Tr. 797. Dr. Dib opined that, due to her severe,
persistent asthma, which caused coughing, wheezing, and
shortness of breath, and her obstructive pulmonary disease,
Stargen could only stand or sit for 15 minutes, could
occasionally lift and carry 5 pounds, could rarely lift 10
pounds, could work no hours per day, would need to lie down
less than one hour a day, and would need to elevate her legs.
Tr. 797-800, 802.
Consultative Examiner Drs. Lyall and Harvan
Lyall: On March 12, 2001, Stargen saw James M. Lyall,
Ph.D., for a psychological consultative examination in
connection with her initial disability application. Tr.
319-322. Stargen reported audio and visual hallucinations and
depression. Tr. 320. Throughout most of the assessment,
Stargen sat and stared into space and the examiner's
questions had to be repeated to her a number of times. Tr.
320, 322. She reported that she had no friends and spent her
time with her imaginary friend, Donald, who talked to her
constantly. Tr. 320. She also sang and danced with Donald.
Tr. 320. Her husband's mother comes to her house to do
the cooking and cleaning because when Stargen tries to cook
“it just burns up.” Tr. 320. She could not
identify even one letter of the alphabet. Tr. 321. Her
husband, who brought her to the exam and was also on SSI
disability, stated that he was going to divorce her because