United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
DECISION AND ENTRY
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
Matthew McQuown applied for period of disability, Disability
Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income on
February 7, 2013, asserting that he could no longer work a
substantial paid job. His claims were denied initially and
upon reconsideration. After a hearing, Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Emily Ruth Statum concluded that he was not
eligible for benefits because he is not under a
“disability” as defined in the Social Security
appealed and the Appeals Council remanded his case back to an
ALJ with instructions to obtain updated treatment records;
further consider the nature, severity, and limiting effects
of all of Plaintiff's impairments; reconsider his
residual functional capacity assessment; and obtain
supplemental evidence from a vocational expert to clarify the
effect of the assessed limitations on Plaintiff's
occupation base. After a second hearing, ALJ Eric Anschuetz
determined that Plaintiff was not under a disability and
accordingly, was not eligible for benefits. Plaintiff brings
this case challenging the Social Security
Administration's denial of his applications for benefits.
case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (Doc. #7), the Commissioner's Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. #12), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #13), and
the administrative record (Doc. #6).
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 Anschuetz's non-disability decision.
asserts that he has been under a “disability”
since February 1, 2009. He was forty-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). He has at
least a high school education. See Id. §§
testified at the hearing before ALJ Anschuetz that he stopped
working in 2009 because he had a herniated disc in his back
and was no longer able to lift or move anything. (Doc. #6,
PageID #101). He worked in a warehouse as a shipping
and receiving clerk. Id. at 104. His job included
“[c]onstant shifting of ATM-like machines. Shifting,
moving, palletizing. Constant bent over.” Id.
at 105. He frequently had to lift and/or carry a hundred
pounds. Id. After leaving his job in 2009, he tried
to work with drywall construction and then roofing but was
not able to do either job. Id. at 104.
asked to describe his back pain, Plaintiff responded,
“It's kind of like … you got the wind
knocked out [of] you…. It feels like you're
getting hit all over with a sledge hammer.”
Id. at 131-32. His pain affects his ability to talk
to people or concentrate/focus on tasks. Id. at 132.
At home, he spends three-quarters of the day lying on his
left side-the only thing that helps relieve his pain.
Id. Plaintiff does not lift anything that weighs
more than ten pounds. Id. at 133-34. He has a cane
but only uses it at home because he is embarrassed to use it
in public. Id. at 131. As a result of his back
problems, Plaintiff is unable to stoop. He cannot reach the
bottom of his fridge and he has fallen many times trying.
takes Vicodin and muscle relaxers three times a day and an
extended-release medication, Hysingla, for pain. Id.
at 111. If his pain level is “very high, ” he
takes more. Id. His pain level increases if he gets
up or sits down. He tossed and turned in bed the night before
the hearing and was in “extra pain” because of
it. Id. at 112. Before the hearing, he took a muscle
relaxer, Motrin, Lyrica, and Vicodin. Id. Lyrica
makes him “very tired” and “very
groggy.” Id. at 132. As a result, he takes
naps during the day. Id.
before the hearing, he had back surgery-a laminectomy.
Id. at 101. After surgery, Plaintiff's doctor
told him that his spine crumbled in his hands. Id.
His doctor prescribed Fosteum to harden Plaintiff's bones
so that he can have a fusion surgery. Id. at 109-10.
Surgery helped Plaintiff's sciatica pain in his left
lower leg. Id. at 102. However, he still has sciatic
pain in his neck, left arm, and lower back down to his left
has difficulty with his hands/wrists. He drops things
sometimes-“Kind of lose my grip just out of the
blue.” Id. And, he also has pain from
time-to-time. At first, the pain was constant but at the time
of the hearing, it was sporadic. Id. Dr. Mubarak
told Plaintiff that he probably had carpal tunnel syndrome,
and Plaintiff thinks he confirmed the diagnosis after
“an EGM or MG.” Id. at 133.
struggles with anxiety and depression. Id. at 113.
He has not seen a psychologist or psychiatrist. Instead, his
family-care provider, Granetta L. Rittenour, CNP, treats him.
Id. Lyrica, which he takes for pain, helps his
anxiety and he also takes cyclobenzaprine at night.
the day, Plaintiff watches TV. Id. at 134. He also
goes on quick trips to the grocery and/or gas station.
Id. at 134-35. A friend takes him, as he does not
have a driver's license. Id. at 134. He lost his
license because he was not able to afford insurance after he
was laid off. Id. at 135.
Vocational Expert's Testimony
Trent, a vocational expert, also testified at the hearing
before ALJ Anschuetz. She classified Plaintiff's past
work into two jobs: (i) shipping and receiving clerk-medium
exertional level (heavy as performed by Plaintiff), SVP 5,
skilled; and (ii) sheet metal worker-medium exertional level,
SVP 3, unskilled. Id. at 137.
asked Ms. Trent a hypothetical:
Assume an individual the same age, education and work
experience as Mr. McQuown, who can lift 20 pounds
occasionally, 10 pounds frequently. Who can stand and/or walk
for a total of six hours during an eight-hour work day. Who
can sit for a total of six hours during an eight-hour work
day. Can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. Can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs. Can occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. Due to mental health
impairments, he's limited to performing simple, routine,
repetitive tasks, but not at a production rate. He can have
occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers and the
public. He must have the option to sit or stand ...