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Johnson v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

July 24, 2018


          Thomas M. Rose District Judge


          Sharon L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Kentoria A. Johnson applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income in March 2014, asserting that as of February 4, 2014, she could no longer work due to intracranial hypertension (brain inflammation), elevated cerebrospinal fluid, demyelinating disease of central nervous system, severe migraines, shoulder pain, upper and lower back pain, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Doc. #6, PageID #355).

         Administrative Law Judge Benjamin Chaykin concluded that Plaintiff was not eligible for benefits because she was not under a disability. He consequently denied Plaintiff's applications. Plaintiff brings this case challenging ALJ Chaykin's decision.

         II. Background

         A. Plaintiff And Her Testimony

         Plaintiff was 36 years old, or a “younger” person, on the date she assertedly became disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). She has a high school education. Before she applied for benefits, she worked as a home health aide, sales clerk, and store laborer.

         During an administrative hearing before ALJ Chaykin, Plaintiff testified that she is single. Her pet dog and her 20-year-old son live with her. She has a driver's license and drives once or twice a week to doctor appointments. She otherwise drives once a month to pick up things she needs like groceries. Her son does most of the grocery shopping. She feels uncomfortable going out because she does not like being around people. She feels like she's always being watched when she leaves home, and it makes her feel very uncomfortable.

         Plaintiff last worked full time in 2013 as a home health aide. That job ended when her employer went out of business. She testified, “that's when I started to go under too. I was having some mental issues that [were] affecting my work.” (Doc. #6, PageID #105). She explained that she unsuccessfully tried to find another job. Id. at 107.

         Plaintiff testified that pain in her legs and knees from multiple sclerosis makes her unable to sit too long. She estimates that she could stand for 15-20 before her legs will give out. Id. at 107-08. She was “having falls” when her legs gave out. Id. at 108.

         Eight weeks before the ALJ's hearing, she fell and broke her foot. Id. at 108, 121-23. Her foot was placed in a cast for two weeks and then in a boot, which she was still wearing at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff told ALJ Chaykin: “I was standing, trying to do some activities around the house and I just fell. I stood up for too long and … I didn't trip over anything, I didn't fall over anything, I just fell. My legs just-slid out from up under me.” Id. at 121. She noted that she will first get dizzy, then lightheaded, and then her legs will go out. Id. at 122. She will sometimes fall when she's “not even walking.” Id. at 123.

         Plaintiff testified that she suffered headaches about twice a week. Her headaches are “more like migraines”-they immobilize her by making her sick to her stomach and causing her to throw up and become weak. Id. at 111. Lying down flat makes her headaches worse. She explained, “I have to be in a certain position to kind of get them to go away. I have so many things that I do to try to cater to these headaches as much as I can so that they don't come on so much, but if the meds [are] only doing so much then there's only so much that I can do too.” Id. at 112. Her prescribed meds include Depakote to help prevent headaches, Diamox to keep her spinal fluid down, and Amitriptyline to suppress her headaches. Id. at 112. When she feels a headache coming on, she needs to turn off the lights and “prop myself in the proper position to lay back with my towel over my eyes.” Id. at 119-20. Noise and extreme light will bring on a headache or make it worse. If she stands too long, she will get a headache and get dizzy. Headaches also cause her vision to get “real blurry to where [she] can't see much of anything.” Id. at 121. Her briefest headache lasted three hours; her longest lasted six hours. Id. at 120. Once her headache subsides, she is able to go back to normal activities.

         When asked about her vision, Plaintiff testified that she gets blurry vision a lot. Sometimes she will “just have a blur go across [her] eye.” Id. at 116. From time to time her vision gets “pitch black for a couple of seconds.” Id. at 117. She underwent Lasik surgery to repair holes and tears in the back of her retinas. She uses eye drops. Every morning her eyes are stuck together, and she must “peel them apart because of all the mucus that gets in [her] eye.” Id.

         She described a typical day as making coffee, taking care of personal hygiene, and then eating breakfast. Id. at 123. She feeds her dog but does not walk him. She testified that her meds “kind of immobilize[]” her and lead her to take naps. Id. at 125. Her son takes care of the housecleaning and helps with the laundry because she is unable to reach into the dryer. Id. at 118, 125-26. She would not be able to reach forward, fold towels, or put things together on a table in front of her for three or six hours per day. Id. at 118-19. Her son stays with her “mostly everywhere [she] goes because he's really concerned about [her], so he says.” Id. at 127.

         B. Medical Evidence

         The administrative record contains many medical records plus opinions from non-treating medical sources. A detailed description of those records and opinions is unnecessary because the undersigned has reviewed the entire administrative record and because both the ALJ and Plaintiff's counsel have summarized the relevant records concerning Plaintiff's physical and mental impairments with citations to specific evidence. The Commissioner relies on the ALJ's recitation of the facts. Additionally, it should be noted that none of Plaintiff's treating or examining medical sources have provided an opinion concerning her ability to perform work activities.

         III. The ...

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