United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
RICHARD J. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
A. BARKER, JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
A. RUIZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Richard J. Thompson (“Thompson” or
“claimant”) has challenged the final decision of
Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”), denying his application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i),
423, et seq. (“Act”). This court has
jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The issue
before the court is whether the final decision of the
Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence and,
therefore, conclusive. For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's final decision should be remanded for
November 30, 2016, Thompson filed an application for DIB
alleging disability beginning September 30, 2016. (R. 9,
Transcript (“tr.”), at 11, 189-190, 226-234,
235-244.) His application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. at 74-89, 90-102. Thereafter,
Thompson filed a request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (ALJ). Id. at 123-124.
held a hearing on April 13, 2018. (R. 9, tr., at 26-73.)
Thompson appeared at the hearing, was represented by counsel,
and testified. Id. at 28, 34-63. A vocational expert
(“VE”) attended the hearing by telephone and
provided testimony. Id. at 28-29, 63-70. On May 9,
2018, the ALJ issued his decision and concluded claimant was
not disabled. Id. at 11-20. The Appeals Council
denied Thompson's request for review, thus rendering the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Id. at 1-3.
August 23, 2018, Thompson filed a complaint challenging the
Commissioner's final decision, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The parties have completed briefing in this
case. Thompson asserts that the ALJ erred when considering
the opinions from a treating psychiatrist; and, further
argues that the ALJ violated SSR 16-3P. (R. 11, PageID #:
PERSONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
was born in 1970, and was 45 years old on the alleged
disability onset date. (R. 9, tr., at 18, 189, 235.) He has a
high school education, is able to communicate in English, and
has past work as caster. Id. at 18, 36, 64, 237,
RELEVANT MEDICAL EVIDENCE
issues will be discussed as they arise in Thompson's
brief alleging error by the ALJ. As noted earlier, Thompson
applied for DIB benefits on November 30, 2016, alleging
disability beginning September 30, 2016. (R. 9, tr., at 11,
189-190.) Thompson listed the physical or mental conditions
that limit his ability to work as “bi-polar.”
Id. at 238.
initial review, state agency physician Leslie Green, M.D.,
completed a physical residual functional capacity assessment
on January 25, 2017. (R. 9, tr., at 83-84.) Dr. Green opined
that Thompson was limited to lifting and carrying fifty
pounds occasionally, and twenty-five pounds frequently.
Id. at 83. The claimant was capable of standing,
walking, or sitting for about six hours of an eight-hour
workday. Id. The doctor opined that Thompson had
unlimited ability to push or pull, other than as stated for
lifting and carrying. Id. Dr. Green found no need
for postural, manipulative, visual, communicative or
environment restrictions. Id. at 84. Dr. Green noted
that Thompson had been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus; and
considered Thompson's pain symptoms. Id.
reconsideration, state agency physician Bradley J. Lewis,
M.D., completed a medical evaluation on April 29, 2017. (R.
19, tr., at 94-95.) Dr. Lewis indicated that no severe
physical impairments were documented, and no changes in
physical condition had been alleged, other than treatment for
pancreatitis that would not last twelve months. Id.
agency reviewing psychologist, Janet Souder, Psy.D.,
determined on February 21, 2017, that Thompson had mild
difficulty in understanding, remembering, or applying
information; and moderate difficulties in interacting with
others, in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace,
and in adapting or managing himself. (R. 9, tr., at 81-82
(psychiatric review technique).) Dr. Souder completed a
mental residual functional capacity assessment, in which she
found that Thompson did not have understanding or memory
limitations, but was moderately limited in his ability to
maintain attention and concentration for extended periods,
and in his ability to work in coordination with, or in
proximity to, others without being distracted by them.
Id. at 84-85. The psychologist also assessed that
claimant was moderately limited in his ability to complete a
normal workday and workweek without interruptions from
psychologically based symptoms, and to perform at a
consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of
rest periods. Id. 85. Dr. Souder assessed Thompson
is capable of tasks that are static and repetitive in nature.
addition, the psychologist indicated that Thompson was
moderately limited in his ability to interact appropriately
with the general public and in his ability to get along with
coworkers without distracting them or exhibiting behavioral
extremes. (R. 9, tr., at 85.) Dr. Souder assessed he should
be limited to superficial interaction with others.
Souder also indicated that Thompson was moderately limited in
his ability to respond appropriately to changes in the work
setting. Id. She opined that, due to depression, he
should be limited to tasks that do not require frequent
changes in routine. Id. at 86.
reconsideration dated April 28, 2017, state agency reviewing
psychologist, Vicki Warren, Ph.D., adopted Dr. Souder's
psychiatric review technique findings- concluding that
Thompson had mild difficulty in understanding, remembering,
or applying information; and moderate difficulties in
interacting with others, in maintaining concentration,
persistence or pace, and in adapting or managing himself. (R.
9, tr., at 95-96.) Dr. Warren's mental RFC assessment was
also identical with Dr. Souder's assessment. Id.
January 29, 2018, Khoa Tran, M.D., completed four forms: A
one-page form, entitled “Off-Task/Absenteeism
Questionnaire, ” a one-page form, “Medical
Statement Concerning Depression, Bipolar, and Related
Disorders, ” another one page form entitled,
“Medical Statement Concerning Anxiety and Obsessive
Compulsive Disorders, ” and an “Anger Management
Statement.” (R. 9, tr., at 579-583.) Dr. Tran
indicated, on the off-task questionnaire, that Thompson would
be off-task at least 20% of the time at work and his
impairments or treatment would cause him to be absent from
work about four times per month. Id. at 579. The
doctor indicted Thompson's impairment as “bipolar,
” and noted it would frequently cause an inability to
concentrate or focus on a sustained basis. Id. Dr.
Tran also noted that claimant had pain in his back and neck.
medical statement concerning depression and bipolar, Dr. Tran
indicated that Thompson was diagnosed with depressive
disorder, with depressed mood, diminished interest, sleep
disturbance, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or
worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of
death or suicide. (R. 9, tr., at 580.) The doctor also
indicated that claimant's bipolar disorder was
characterized by pressured speech, decreased need for sleep,
distractibility, and manic behavior. Id.
Tran indicated that Thompson had marked limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information; in
interacting with others; in maintaining concentration,
persistence or pace, and in adapting or managing himself. (R.
9, tr., at 580-581.) The doctor marked that Thompson's
psychiatric disorders were serious and persistent.
Tran noted in the medical statement that claimant's
anxiety disorder was characterized by “restlessness,
” “easily fatigued, ” “irritability,
” “muscle tension” or “sleep
disturbance.” (R. 9, tr., at 581.) His panic disorder
was characterized by panic attacks, followed by a persistent
concern about additional panic attacks, and disproportionate
fear or anxiety about being in public situations.
Id. Additionally, Dr. Tran marked that
Thompson's obsessive-compulsive disorder was
characterized by involuntary, time-consuming preoccupations
with intrusive thoughts, as well as repetitive behaviors
aimed at reducing anxiety. Id.
anger management statement, Dr. Tran indicated that the
claimant had pervasive and deep issues with anger management.
(R. 9, tr., at 582-583.) The anger management document
includes twenty “statements” of anger-related
issues, and Dr. Tran checked nineteen of those statements as
applicable to Thompson. Id. For example, Dr. Tran
checked a box on the form noting that Thompson “seems
to get angry all the time and flies off the handle
easily.” Id. at 582. Although Dr. Tran
indicated that claimant “flies off the handle easily,
” he also marked that claimant “tends to try to
keep his anger bottled up.” Id. Although
claimant keeps his anger bottled up, he also “feels
like he is out of control and acts before he thinks.”
Id. While Dr. Tran marked that the claimant ...