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Glaze v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 12, 2019

JOHN L. GLAZE, Plaintiff,

          Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Chief Judge.



         Plaintiff John L. Glaze brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. 9) be OVERRULED and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendant.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his application for SSI on July 21, 2015, alleging that he was disabled beginning June 26, 2010. (Doc. 7, Tr. 298-304). After his application was denied initially and on reconsideration, the Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”) held a hearing on August 30, 2017. (Tr. 167-212). On February 14, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's application for benefits. (Tr. 149-66). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 2-8).

         Plaintiff filed the instant case seeking a review of the Commissioner's decision on July 23, 2018 (Doc. 1), and the Commissioner filed the administrative record on October 16, 2018 (Doc. 7). Plaintiff filed his Statement of Errors (Doc. 9) on November 30, 2018, Defendant filed an Opposition (Doc. 10) on January 30, 2019, and Plaintiff filed his Reply (Doc. 14) on February 23, 2019. Thus, this matter is now ripe for consideration.

         A. Hearing Testimony

         The ALJ usefully summarized Plaintiff's hearing testimony:

The claimant testified that he lives by himself and is in the process of selling his condominium, though he has a renter in it at the time of the hearing time. He works a seasonal job with friends at the Haunted Hoochie Halloween house, reporting that he sits and collects 3D glasses from patrons. He enjoys ghost hunting activities and engaged in them with others typically in a small group; however, it has gotten expensive. He uses Facebook and connects with friends online. He described having some issues with paying attention, noting that during a movie, he may drift off and miss a few scenes and with respect to reading, he noted that noting holds his interest. He reported experiencing nightmare[s] and the next day does not want to be around others.

(Tr. 153-54).

         B. Relevant Medical History

         Plaintiff's Statement of Errors concerns his use of an assistive device to walk and impairments related to his mental health. The Court summarizes medical evidence pertaining to the same. With respect to Plaintiff's use of an assistive device, the record reflects that:

[i]n February 2015, while roller skating, the claimant sustained an ankle fracture which required open reduction internal fixation. It is of note that the claimant had the procedure in February and by May was doing very well, with minimal swelling good strength and a healed fracture confirmed by imaging. He was to wean from his walking boot and was released from the orthopedist's care. It is of note that although the claimant received a cane in March 2015 after his surgery, in May 2015, he did not wish to pursue physical therapy and there is no evidence in the record to document the need for an ambulatory aid beyond the natural healing time for this injury. While he was noted to have a pronated gait, he was noted to use no ambulatory aid. Additionally, while the claimant reported some morning ankle stiffness to his podiatrist, there is only evidence of some reduced plantar flexion of his left ankle in August 2015, as well as some diminished protective sensation to the left toes and decreased sensation to the left great toe, which could be a residual effect from his injury or his poorly controlled diabetes mellitus. However, the rest of his sensation examinations were intact and he was noted to have 5/5 strength in the lower extremities and no edema.

(Tr. 156 (internal citations omitted)).

         The ALJ also thoroughly summarized evidence related to Plaintiff's mental health:

Treatment notes from his providers indicate that the claimant at times is depressed or anxious, though he is elsewhere [was noted] to be alert, oriented, attentive and in no acute distress. His psychologist typically described the claimant as maintaining good eye contact, displaying no psychomotor or speech problems, being alert and oriented or presenting without signs of psychosis, thought disorder, or acute distress. While he described a low mood and reported anxiety, his mood was typically within normal limits, he displayed an appropriate range of affect and there was no apparent problems with attention, concentration, or remote or recent memory. While the claimant reports intermittent auditory hallucinations to both his psychiatrist and psychologist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), he is not noted to be responding to internal stimuli and he has acknowledged that he knows it is not real and his judgment and insight were typically noted as adequate or intact. The claimant's psychiatrist typically noted the claimant to have a variable range of mood and affect; though it was typically noted that his speech was clearly articulated and non-pressured, this thought process is linear, logical, and organized, and his cognition was grossly intact. The claimant reported to his treating sources that he enjoyed his seasonal work, engaged with others using online sites such as Meet-up and he was able to attend and participate in a group therapy setting. At times, he noted that he was not invited to ...

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