United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
H. Rice District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
Misti Couch applied for period of disability, Disability
Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income in
September 2013, asserting that as of April 14, 2012, she
could no longer work a substantial paid job. The Social
Security Administration denied her claims initially and upon
reconsideration. After a hearing, Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) Gregory G. Kenyon concluded that Plaintiff was not
eligible for benefits because she is not under a
“disability” as defined in the Social Security
Act. Plaintiff brings this case challenging the Social
Security Administration's denial of her applications for
Social Security benefits.
case is presently before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (Doc. #7), the Commissioner's
Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #9), Plaintiff's Reply
(Doc. #10), the administrative record (Doc. #6), and the
record as a whole.
Standard of Review
Social Security Administration provides Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to individuals who
are under a “disability, ” among other
eligibility requirements. Bowen v. City of New York,
476 U.S. 467, 470 (1986); see 42 U.S.C. §§
423(a)(1), 1382(a). The term “disability”-as
defined by the Social Security Act-has specialized meaning of
limited scope. It encompasses “any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment” that
precludes an applicant from performing a significant paid
job-i.e., “substantial gainful activity, ” in
Social Security lexicon. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); see Bowen, 476 U.S. at 469-70.
review of an ALJ's non-disability decision proceeds along
two lines: “whether the ALJ applied the correct legal
standards and whether the findings of the ALJ are supported
by substantial evidence.” Blakley v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009); see
Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 745-46
(6th Cir. 2007). Review for substantial evidence is not
driven by whether the Court agrees or disagrees with the
ALJ's factual findings or by whether the administrative
record contains evidence contrary to those factual findings.
Gentry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 741 F.3d 708, 722
(6th Cir. 2014); Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). Instead, the ALJ's
factual findings are upheld if the substantial-evidence
standard is met-that is, “if a ‘reasonable mind
might accept the relevant evidence as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Blakley, 581 F.3d at 407
(quoting Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d
387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004)). Substantial evidence consists of
“more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance . . . .” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see
Gentry, 741 F.3d at 722.
other line of judicial inquiry-reviewing the correctness of
the ALJ's legal criteria-may result in reversal even when
the record contains substantial evidence supporting the
ALJ's factual findings. Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009); see
Bowen, 478 F.3d at 746. “[E]ven if supported by
substantial evidence, ‘a decision of the Commissioner
will not be upheld where the SSA fails to follow its own
regulations and where that error prejudices a claimant on the
merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial
right.'” Rabbers, 582 F.3d at 651 (quoting
in part Bowen, 478 F.3d at 746, and citing
Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541,
546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).
asserts that she has been under a “disability”
since April 14, 2012. She was thirty-one 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 earned a
GED-equivalent to high school education. See Id.
§§ 404.1564(b)(4), 416.964(b)(4).
testified at the hearing before ALJ Kenyon that she suffers
from bipolar disorder. Id. at 91, 94. She
experiences paranoia constantly-“[e]very time I go out
of the house I think something is going to happen to me
….” Id. at 95. And, ‘I'm
always thinking that something is going to happen in the
middle of the night.” Id. at 97.
irritable on a daily basis and “go[es] off” every
day. Id. at 95-96. She curses and yells at her
children, husband, and strangers. Id. She assaulted
her husband once. Id. at 96.
has trouble concentrating because her mind is constantly
racing. Id. She cannot focus for long enough to
watch an entire movie. Id. Her racing thoughts also
inhibit her ability to sleep. Id. She only sleeps
for two or three hours a night and does not nap during the
struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Id.
She has flashbacks a couple times a day every day.
Id. at 105. She has panic attacks “a couple
times a week.” Id. at 104.
Plaintiff is depressed. Id. at 97. Twice a week, she
has crying spells. Id. at 98. She isolates herself
in her home and, a couple times a week, she will lock herself
in her room to get away from her children. Id. at
97-98, 103.. She only leaves her house to go grocery shopping
and she does that at two or three in the morning to avoid
other people. Id. at 98. She “eliminated all
of [her friends].” Id.
sees her psychiatrist, Dr. Rahman, once a month and he
prescribes four medications: Lexapro, trazodone, Klonopin,
and Adderall. Id. at 100. She thinks he is
“[s]omewhat” helpful but that her medications
need to be changed. Id. at 99.
has migraine headaches three to four times a week.
Id. at 91. They usually last half of the day.
Id. She has sensitivity to both bright light and
loud noises. Id. at 92. She believes they are
brought on by “[a] lot of stress.” Id.
On a scale from one to ten, she rated her pain from migraines
at seven. Id. at 91. She takes Tylenol and
800-milligram ibuprofen. Id. at 92.
also has neck, lower back, and hip pain as the result of an
automobile accident in 2011 or 2012. Id. at 92-93.
She described her lower back pain as a constant shooting or
sharp pain. Id. at 93. On a scale from one to ten,
she rated her pain as six. Id. She used to take
Vicodin but her doctors took her off of it. Id. In
the past, she tried cortisone injections and physical therapy
but neither helped. Id. Her neck pain, by
comparison, is an achy pain-four or five on the ten-point
scale. Id. at 94.
lives in a house with her three children-ages 16, 11, and
newborn. Id. at 89. At the time of the hearing, she
had recently separated from her husband. Id.
However, he still came to her house to help her with the
children. Id. But “[i]f he doesn't do it
right then I get upset with him and go off.”
Id. at 101.
is able to drive when she needs to but sometimes forgets
where she is going. Id. at 89. She sometimes does
not have the energy or motivation to do anything.
Id. at 102-03. When she is feeling up to it, she
still can only do some household chores such as dishes and
straightening up. Id. at 102.
August 2014 and March 2015, she had a part-time job as a
bartender, working less than 15 hours a week. Id. at
90. During that short period, she missed 30 days of work.
Id. She occasionally went off on customers.
Id. at 99. She also screamed at her boss and
coworkers. Id. Eventually, she became stressed and
“couldn't handle it anymore.” Id. at