United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Rosemary J. Hutchings, Plaintiff
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant
G. Carr Sr. U.S. District Judge.
a Social Security case in which the plaintiff, Rosemary
Hutchings, appeals the Commissioner's decision denying
her application for benefits.
administrative law judge concluded that Hutchings suffers
from multiple severe impairments, including urinary
incontinence. (Doc. 10 at 41). The ALJ found that plaintiff
had the residual function capacity (RFC) to perform
“light work, ” provided that she be allowed
“normal breaks” during the workday. (Id.
at 45). In so concluding, the ALJ rejected, as “not
entirely credible” (id. at 46), the
plaintiff's repeated, longstanding complaints that her
incontinence caused her to spend much of the day using the
bathroom or changing her soiled clothing - and the corollary
that a person with Hutchings's symptoms could not work
without lengthy or extra breaks.
a sufficient number of jobs existed in the national economy
that a person with Hutchings's RFC could perform, the ALJ
ruled that she was not disabled. (Id. at 50, 52).
is Magistrate Judge Ruiz's Report and Recommendation,
which recommends that I affirm the denial of benefits. (Doc.
Magistrate Judge first concluded there was substantial
evidence, principally in the form of the adverse credibility
determination, for the ALJ's ruling that Hutchings's
incontinence did not “generate significant physical
limitations.” (Id. at 16).
Magistrate Judge recounted, Hutchings completed a five-day
“vocational rehabilitation assignment” in
October, 2015. (Id. at 19). During that assignment -
which occurred more than three years after Hutchings's
incontinence (and other maladies) allegedly disabled her in
August, 2012 - Hutchings “spent four hours per day
performing kitchen work, ” apparently without needing
to take frequent breaks. (Id.). The Magistrate Judge
added that Hutchings testified that her symptoms improved
after she underwent Botox injection therapy in July, 2014 -
nearly two years after her alleged onset date.
Magistrate Judge then rejected Hutchings's claim that the
ALJ erred by not considering whether she was entitled to a
closed period of disability. (Doc. 16 at 19).
Magistrate Judge's view, Hutchings had no evidence
“beyond her subjective self reports, which the ALJ did
not credit, to support that she had symptoms as severe as she
alleges for a continuous period of twelve months or
more.” (Id.). Although the Magistrate Judge
acknowledged Hutchings's August, 2013, complaint of
“constant leaking, ” the Magistrate Judge
concluded that her incontinence “appear[ed] to have
largely resolved” after the Botox therapy in July,
2014, just shy of the required twelve-month period.
has filed an objection contending that the ALJ erred by not
considering a closed period of disability. (Doc. 17). In its
response (Doc. 18 at 1), the government elected to stand on
its merits brief, which notably failed to address
Hutchings's argument about a closed period of disability.
(Doc. 13 at 1-16).
undertaken a de novo review of the R&R, see 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), I will sustain the objection, vacate
the Commissioner's decision, and remand the case for
claimant who meets the 12-month durational requirement of 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A) [&] 1382c(a)(3)(A) may be
entitled to benefits from the time her disability commences
until such time as the disability ceases.” Brown v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2015 WL 502143, *5 (S.D. Ohio).
Hutchings has consistently complained about what appears to
be severe urinary incontinence from at least June, 2012
through October, 2015. (Doc. 17 at 2-4). Although the ALJ
ultimately concluded that Hutchings was not disabled for the
entirety of this period, it is undisputed that the ALJ never
considered whether Hutchings was entitled to a closed period
of disability within that timeframe. (Doc. 10 at 38-52).
the Commissioner's merits brief nor her response to
Hutchings's objection tried to justify this oversight.
(Doc. 13 at 1-16; Doc. 18 at 1). And while the Magistrate
Judge ultimately concluded that Hutchings was not entitled to
a closed period of ...