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Baldwin v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

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

July 27, 2018

PHYLLIS BALDWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          Walter H. Rice District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS [1]

          SHARON L. OVINGTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Phyllis Baldwin brings this case challenging the Social Security Administration's denial of her application for period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits. She applied for benefits on January 6, 2012, asserting that she could no longer work a substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Scott R. Canfield concluded that she was not eligible for benefits because she is not under a “disability” as defined in the Social Security Act.

         The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, and she filed a previous action in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. See Baldwin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:15-cv-419, Doc. #s 8-9 (S.D. Ohio April 21, 2016). Upon the parties' Joint Motion for Remand, the Court vacated the Commissioner's decision and remanded the case pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative proceedings. Id. Upon remand, ALJ Gregory G. Kenyon determined that Plaintiff was not eligible for benefits because she is not under a disability.

         The case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #8), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #12), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #13), and the administrative record (Doc. #s 6-7).

         Plaintiff seeks a remand of this case for payment of benefits or, at a minimum, for further proceedings. The Commissioner asks the Court to affirm ALJ Kenyon's non-disability decision.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff asserts that she has been under a “disability” since June 7, 2011. She was fifty-one years old at that time and was therefore considered a person “closely approaching advanced age” under Social Security Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d). She has a high school education. See Id. § 404.1564(b)(4).

         A. Plaintiff's Testimony

         Plaintiff testified at the hearing before ALJ Kenyon that she has pain in her lower back, neck, and shoulders. (Doc. #7, PageID #719). She described her back pain as “sharp” and, on a ten-point scale, she rated it at ten. Id. The pain radiates down her left leg and is starting to go down her right leg as well. Id. at 720. Her legs are unstable and she has lost her balance and fallen a few times. Id. Her pain also causes problems with bending, sitting, and standing. Id. at 721. Plaintiff has tried many different types of treatment-pain management, physical therapy, water therapy, injections. Id. Each helped at first but her pain never went away completely. Id.

         Plaintiff explained that her neck pain is “throbbing.” Id. at 722. On a ten-point scale, it is usually eight or nine. Id. She has trouble turning her head-“I get kind of dizzy and my head feels like … one of those wobble things.” Id.

         Plaintiff has pain in her neck and shoulders because of fibromyalgia. Id. at 726. The pain “can go from burning to stabbing to numbness like. It's just constantly there.” Id. It is typically eight or nine on a scale from one to ten. Id. He fibromyalgia also causes her to have trouble sleeping. Id. at 726-27. She lies down for about eight hours but usually only gets two hours of good sleep. Id. at 727.

         Plaintiff has carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists but it is worse in her left wrist. Id. at 723-24. She has pain in her wrists, her finger, and her thumb. Id. at 723. She has difficulty opening or gripping things. Id. She sometimes needs help zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, and using a fork and knife. Id. at 724. The more she uses her hands, the worse they hurt. Id. at 733. She tried physical therapy, and it helped for a while when she first started having problems. Id. at 735. She has not had surgery because her sisters had it and it did not seem to help. Id. at 734.

         Plaintiff experiences migraines every day. Id. at 727. They last most of the day. Id. Although, “I can sometimes use an icepack and it kind of calms it down, but it never goes away.” Id. She generally starts every day with an icepack in the dark. If the migraine subsides a little bit, she is able to partially open the curtains. Id. at 733. Two or three times a week, she has to go back into her bedroom later in the day with an icepack to lay down for three to four hours. Id. If she is having a really bad migraine, she has sensitivity to light and loud noises. Id. at 728.

         Plaintiff has a history of hearing loss. Id. at 725. When she had surgery on a tumor, the surgeon went through one of her eardrums, causing it to rupture. Id. She cannot hear anything on that side. Id. She has not tried ...


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