United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Vascura, Magistrate Judge
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE DATED
matter comes before the Court on the Magistrate Judge's
February 20, 2019 Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 15), which recommended that Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (ECF No. 10) be
OVERRULED and that the Commissioner's
decision be AFFIRMED. This Court hereby
ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation in its
entirety based on an independent consideration of the
applied for supplemental security income on December 9, 2014,
alleging disability since October 21, 2014. (ECF No. 15 at
1). Plaintiff's application was denied at first and again
when reconsidered. (Id.). After the second denial,
Plaintiff sought de novo review from an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Id.).
The ALJ held a hearing on January 17, 2017 and then, in an
April 5, 2017 decision, found Plaintiff not to be disabled
under the Social Security Act. (Id.). In his
decision denying Plaintiff benefits, the ALJ followed the
required five-step sequential analysis for
disability-benefits claims. (Id. at 8); See
C.F.R. § 416.920(a). Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council
to review this decision but it denied the request and
affirmed the ALJ's decision on March 17, 2018.
(Id.). On October 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed his
Statement of Specific Errors with this Court, seeking to have
his case remanded. (ECF No. 10). The Magistrate Judge issued
a Report and Recommendation regarding Plaintiff's alleged
errors on February 20, 2019 and recommended that this Court
overrule the Statement of Specific Errors and affirm the
ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 15).
Plaintiff timely filed his Objection to the Report and
Recommendation on March 6, 2019. (ECF No. 16). He raises two
objections. First, that the ALJ did not properly evaluate the
opinions of the treating source doctors; and second, that the
appeals council did not properly consider the medical source
statement provided to them. (Id.).
While incarcerated, Plaintiff was subject to a pre-screen
assessment by Dr. Princess Cripe, a psychiatrist, who
concluded that he was “unable to engage in substantial
gainful activity.” (ECF No. 15 at 21). However,
Plaintiff's treatment records in prison indicate that
Plaintiff remained stable and controlled his symptoms.
(Id.). He had two jobs in prison and did not have
any disciplinary issues while in general population.
(Id.). Also, he underwent a second pre-screen that
found him ineligible for benefits because he was doing well
in general population. (Id.).
began meeting with Dr. Jay Lee, a psychiatrist, on January 6,
2015 and regularly met with him for about a year. (ECF No. 15
at 3-4). Initially, Dr. Lee noted that the symptoms of
Plaintiff's depression were not properly controlled and
that Plaintiff had some suicidal thoughts. (Id. at
3). However, in subsequent visits, Dr. Lee almost always
described Plaintiff's progress as “stable, ”
found his judgment, memory, orientation, and thought process
to be normal, and remarked that his symptoms were under
control when he was on medication. (Id. at 4). At
the end of his evaluation of Plaintiff, Dr. Lee marked a box
on the form that indicated that he thought Plaintiff could
not properly function up to half of the time for any given
workday or workweek in most work-related activities and also
remarked that the Plaintiff could not work because he had
been fired from a job six or seven years prior. (Id.
Earl Greer, a psychologist, treated Plaintiff between May
2015 and December 2016. (Id. at 5). Dr. Greer found
Plaintiff to be agoraphobic and paranoid and Plaintiff
frequently discussed his violent dreams and inner voices
encouraging him to commit violent acts with Dr. Greer.
(Id. at 5-6). In a December 2, 2015 letter, Dr.
Greer wrote that Plaintiff's depression, anxiety, and
easy irritation would prevent him from being able to function
in a workplace. (Id. at 6). In a checkbox form, Dr.
Greer indicated that Plaintiff would be markedly limited in
his work-related mental functions and that he would be unable
to function up to a quarter of the time he would be working.
(Id. at 17, 19). Dr. Greer justified this opinion
only by saying that Plaintiff was “emotionally
unstable.” (Id. at 19).
submitted as new evidence to the Appeals Council a medical
source statement from Dr. Tarcisio Gacheru, D.N.P. dated
January 12, 2018. (Id. at 9). This statement posited
that Plaintiff was moderately or markedly impaired in his
social interaction, concentration, and persistence.
(Id. at 10). Though the document is dated2018, Dr.
Gacheru claims that the opinions it contains date back to
2014. (Id. at 13). The Appeals Council rejected the
statement as immaterial, not convincing them that the ALJ was
wrong. (Id. at 12).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
objection to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, this Court must “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). This de novo review, in turn, requires
the Court to “determine whether the record as a whole
contains substantial evidence to support the ALJ's
decision” and to “determine whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal criteria.” Inman v.
Astrue, 920 F.Supp.2d 861, 863 (S.D. Ohio 2013).
Substantial evidence means relevant evidence that “a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted).
Substantial evidence constitutes “more than a mere
scintilla, but only so much as would be required to prevent
judgment as a matter of law against the Commissioner if this
case were being tried to a jury.” Inman, 920
F.Supp.2d at 863 (citing Foster v. Bowen, 853 F.2d
483, 486 (6th Cir. 1988)).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Treating Source ...